Southern District Judge Denise Cote (See Profile) on Thursday rejected arguments by Apple Inc. that an upcoming damages trial in the e-books price-fixing litigation shouldn’t be held in her courtroom.
“Apple’s motion is made for tactical purposes of delay,” Cote wrote in In re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, 11 MD 2293. “By its statements and conduct throughout this litigation, Apple has repeatedly manifested its consent to a single trial on damages and to that trial occurring in this venue.”
The U.S. Department of Justice brought civil claims against Apple and five book publishers in April 2012, alleging they struck anticompetitive pricing agreements when Apple entered the e-books market. State attorneys general have brought identical claims. There is also a related consumer class action. The book publishers all settled, but Apple has steadfastly argued that its actions were pro-competitive.
The DOJ and the state AGs made their case in a liability-only bench trial before Cote last summer. Cote handed them a forceful bench verdict in July 2013 (NYLJ, July 11, 2013). Apple’s next test is a July 14 damages trial in the AG suits and the class actions. The plaintiffs are seeking $840 million.
In a February 2014 motion, Apple sought to derail the damages trial. The company argued that the state AG litigation and the class action should be remanded to Texas and California, respectively, where they were originally filed. Apple argued that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation only consolidated those suits with the DOJ case for pretrial purpose, but Cote ruled that Apple long ago waived the right to make any jurisdictional argument. Her ruling came one day after rejecting a separate motion from Apple that she delay the trial.