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Hagens Berman: Penguin Agrees to $75 million E-book Settlement with States, Consumers

  Hagens Berman: Penguin Agrees to $75 million E-book Settlement with States,
  Consumers

Business Wire

SEATTLE -- May 22, 2013

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a consumer-rights law firm, today announced that
the firm, working alongside 33 state attorneys general, has reached a proposed
$75 million settlement with global book publisher Penguin (NYSE: PSO) over
allegations that it participated in an illegal scheme to fix the price of
e-books in the United States.

The lawsuit asserts that Penguin actively participated in a price-fixing
scheme orchestrated by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) that artificially raised e-book
prices and created a virtual cartel, eliminating any retailer competition on
price.

The $75 million settlement, if approved by the court, would resolve claims
filed by 33 states against Penguin as well as class-action lawsuits filed by
consumers alleging that the company’s behavior violated unfair competition
laws, causing consumers to overpay for e-books.

“This proposed settlement is a powerful demonstration of what is possible when
federal, state and private class antitrust enforcement lawyers work together,”
said Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “In this case, the
level of cooperation was unprecedented, and the results that we were able to
deliver to the states and consumers demonstrate that.”

Late last year, Penguin settled similar claims with the Department of Justice.
Under that settlement, Penguin agreed to end its allegedly anticompetitive
agreements with Apple and other retailers for a period of two years.

In December, Berman was appointed lead counsel to represent the rights of
consumers in the consolidated class-action lawsuit first filed on Aug. 9,
2011. It alleges that the defendants coordinated a switch to an agency model,
where publishers would set the price, rather than retailers. The result, the
lawsuit claims, was a dramatic increase in the price of many e-books as
retailers were contractually forbidden from competing on price. The suit
sought to compensate consumers for overpayment as a result of the pricing
agreement.

“Penguin's senior management deserves credit for working with us and the
attorneys general to reach a comprehensive agreement in such a hotly contested
case,” said Jeff D. Friedman, Hagens Berman partner. “They’ve agreed to a
settlement that will go a long way toward making e-book consumers whole and
restoring a thriving, again-competitive e-book marketplace.”

The states and the Department of Justice are scheduled to face Apple in a
civil trial regarding these claims beginning on June 3, 2013.

The settlement with Penguin must be approved by the court. A hearing is
expected later this summer. For more information or to track the progress of
the settlement, visit www.hbsslaw.com/ebooks.

About Hagens Berman

Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP represents consumers,
whistleblowers, investors, workers and others in complex and class-action
litigation. The firm has offices in ten cities and has been named to the
National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List five times. Founded in 1993, HBSS
continues to successfully fight for consumer rights in large, complex
litigation against large corporations. More about the law firm and its
successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Visit the firm’s class-action law
blog at www.classactionlawtoday.com.

Contact:

Firmani + Associates Inc.
Mark Firmani, 206-443-9357
mark@firmani.com
 
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