SALT LAKE CITY – Utah consumers will begin receiving account credits or checks this week in partial settlement of a 2012 E-book price-fixing lawsuit brought by attorneys general in 33 states.
Utah joined the lawsuit against Apple, Inc. and five of the six largest E-book publishers in the country including Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, and Penguin Group, USA, Inc.
The claims have been settled for a total nationwide payment of $166 million, of which approximately $1.5 million will be distributed to Utah residents under settlements approved by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
“We are always pleased when our office can team with other states to return hard-earned money back to Utah consumers,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “Because we are a tech-oriented state, many have been impacted by these violations of antitrust laws. I appreciate Assistant Attorneys General David Sonnenreich and Ronald Ockey for their work on this case and look forward to the results of the upcoming damages trial as we seek to obtain substantial additional monetary compensation for consumers, as well as civil penalties for the state.”
An account credit or check will be based on the number of eligible E-books purchased by a consumer during the claims period, April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012. Whether a consumer receives a credit or check depends on the retailer through which the E-book was purchased and, in certain circumstances, on whether a claim was properly filed or on whether a consumer specifically requested a check. Eligible consumers should review their email for communications from their E-book retailer, or from the Settlement Administrator, regarding account credits or checks.
Apple declined to settle the claims against it, and the District Court conducted a three-week trial in June 2013. Following that trial, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote found that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.
A second trial to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay for that violation is expected to be held sometime this summer. If successful, additional account credits or checks will be distributed to Utah consumers in the future.
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