Apple Could Pay $400M for Fixing E-Book Prices

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Consumers and state attorneys general revealed Wednesday that their deal over Apple’s fixing of e-book prices could lead to $400 million in payments.
     “This outcome would represent a consumer recovery of more than 200 percent of the maximum estimated consumer damages, placing this case among the exceedingly rare cases that provide consumers nationwide with double the amount of their estimated damages,” lawyers for the consumers wrote in a 24-page memorandum seeking a federal judge’s approval.
     Apple had fought longest when faced with several antitrust class actions against it and publishers Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette and HarperCollins.
     While the other publishers settled those claims for a total of $166 million, Apple went to a bench trial last year that ended with U.S. District Judge Denise Cote finding that it had played a central role in the price-fixing conspiracy.
     A damages trial was initially slated for this month, and the consumers’ expert would have urged the jury to reach a $280 million figure. Antitrust law meanwhile supports tripling that figure.
     The 2nd Circuit made the future of that trial uncertain, however, when it advanced Apple’s appeals of multiple Cote decisions. That court stopped class action notification and seemed primed to postpone the trial.
     Before those issues could be resolved, Apple reached an unspecified settlement with its opponents last month. The details of that agreement came to light with the filing of Wednesday’s memo.
     If the appellate court orders a liability retrial, consumers will receive a smaller recovery of $50 million.
     The consumers will collect nothing if the circuit clears Apple of violating antitrust laws.
     New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman estimated that consumers in his state stand to recover “7 percent, or as much as $28 million” of the total payout.
     “This settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “In a major victory, our settlement has the potential to result in Apple paying hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers to compensate them for paying unlawfully inflated ebook prices.”
     Lawyers for Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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