Tennesseans will begin receiving account credits or checks this week in a partial agreement resolving an E-book price-fixing lawsuit brought by Attorney General Bob Cooper and attorneys general from 32 other states.
The lawsuit, calling for $166 million nationwide payment, was brought against Apple, Inc. and five of the six largest E-book publishers in the country three years ago. Those E-book publishers are Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Tennessee's share is approximately $2.8 million The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has now approved those agreements after finding they conspired to restrain trade in violation of federal and state laws.
"My Office is happy that Tennesseans will receive this compensation soon," Attorney General Bob Cooper said. "Unfortunately, it took approximately three years to prove consumers paid millions of dollars more than they should have because these companies conspired to artificially raise the price of E-books."
It has not yet been determined how many Tennesseans will receive funds. As part of the agreement, consumers will receive an account credit or check based on the number of eligible E-books they bought during the claims period (April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012). Whether a consumer receives a credit or check depends on the retailer through which consumers bought their E-books. In certain circumstances, the payment depends upon whether a claim was properly filed or on whether a consumer specifically requested a check. Eligible consumers should review their email for communications from their E-book retailer, or from the Settlement Administrator, regarding account credits or checks. For more information on 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 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 e-book prices, in violation of federal and state antitrust laws. A second trial to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay for that violation has been tentatively scheduled for May. If successful, additional account credits or checks will be distributed to Tennessee consumers in the future.