Consumers in Connecticut will begin receiving account credits or checks this week through the partial settlement of an eBook price-fixing lawsuit brought in 2012 by Attorney General George Jepsen and attorneys general from 32 other states.
The lawsuit was brought against Apple, Inc. and five major eBook publishers. The publishers – Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; Simon & Schuster Inc.; Holtzbrink Publishers LLC, d/b/a/ Macmillan; and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. – settled the claims against them for a total nationwide payment of $166 million, of which approximately $3 million will be distributed to Connecticut residents. Those settlements have now been approved by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
“I encourage Connecticut consumers who filed claims or are otherwise eligible for credits through these settlements to check their email or mail and their retailer accounts to take advantage of the refunds that will begin arriving this week,” said Attorney General Jepsen.
Account credits and checks will be based on the number of eligible eBooks purchased during the claims period – April 1, 2010, to May 21, 2012. Whether a consumer receives a credit or a check depends on the retailer through which the eBook was purchased and, in certain circumstances, whether a claim was properly filed. Eligible consumers should check their email for communications from their eBook retailer regarding account credits. Checks will be sent by mail to eligible consumers. For more information about the settlements, please visit www.ebookagsettlements.com.
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 Court 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 eBook prices, in violation of state and federal antitrust laws. Apple is appealing that decision. A second trial to determine the amount of damages Apple would pay has been tentatively scheduled for this summer.
“Consumers are entitled to a fair, open and competitive marketplace, and consumers who have suffered as a consequence of violation of antitrust laws are entitled to compensation,” the Attorney General said, “At the upcoming damages trial, Connecticut – along with Texas and New York – will be leading the effort on behalf of our partner states to obtain substantial additional compensation for consumers as well as civil penalties for the state.”
Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Nielsen, Gary Becker and Richard Porter; Paralegal Specialist Holly MacDonald; and Assistant Attorney General Michael Cole, chief of the Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department, are assisting the Attorney General in this matter.
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