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Hagens Berman has moved to intervene in at least five “copycat” lawsuits in federal court in New York. The firm said it hopes to consolidate all the litigation in the Northern District of California, where it is pursuing a price fixing case against electronic book publishers and retailers. In an Aug. 24 motion, filed in all five cases, Jason Zweig, of counsel in the Seattle firm’s New York office, argued that their core allegations were identical to those brought by his firm. All six cases, which were filed this month, allege that Apple Inc., which launched the iPad and iBookstore last year, and publishers including HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Simon & Schuster Inc., illegally colluded to fix the prices of electronic books. Their acts served to boost profits and eliminate the competitively discounted prices offered by Amazon Inc. for its Kindle device, according to the suits. Zweig argued that all the cases should be consolidated in California because Hagens Berman, which filed on Aug. 9, was the first to the courthouse. “Each of the related actions is merely a copycat of the Petru action; they allege no additional material facts that were not alleged by Intervenor Petru,” Zweig wrote, referring to Anthony Petru, the Oakland, Calif., resident who is one of the named plaintiffs in Hagens Berman’s class action. “In fact, it appears that most of the facts in the related action complaints are simply a verbatim regurgitation of the Petru complaint.” One of the New York cases was filed on Aug. 12 by Jay Eisenhofer, co-founder and managing partner of Grant & Eisenhofer in Wilmington, Del. Two were filed by David Leventhal, a partner at New York’s Faruqi & Faruqi, on Aug. 16, and Bernard Persky, co-chairman of the antitrust practice group of New York’s Labaton Sucharow, on Aug. 17. Christopher Lovell, of New York’s Lovell Stewart Halebian Jacobson in New York, filed the final cases on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11. None of the lawyers returned calls or requests for comments. Hagens Berman did not respond to a request for comment. In addition to the first-to-file argument, Zweig said that California is the appropriate forum because Apple is based in Cupertino, Calif. “Apple’s launch of the iPad is what enabled this conspiracy to take flight,” Zweig wrote. He argued that consolidation was timely because the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is not scheduled to hear arguments on coordinating the cases until Dec. 1, with a decision unlikely until later that month or January 2012. In addition to Hagens Berman’s case, two additional suits have been filed in the Northern District of California: One by Jeffrey Keller, founding partner of San Francisco’s Keller Grover on Aug. 19, and the other by Michael Ram of San Francisco’s Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski, on Aug. 11. Amanda Bronstad can be contacted at [email protected].

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