It took Judge Denise Cote just 20 days to deliver a decisive verdict against Apple after its e-book price-fixing trial, but despite that verdict, Apple is conceding no ground in the states' and consumer class action case. With a damages trial still on schedule for May of 2014, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 23. And Apple this week filed its answer, in which it offered 10 initial defenses, and conceded virtually none of the findings from its June trial.
In its Amended complaint, the plaintiffs laid out a narrative that largely followed the one presented at trial in June, although with more of a focus on the consumer harm allegedly caused by the price-fixing. One three-page section in the plaintiffs' filing includes actual consumer complaints over higher prices [paragraph 146 in the Amended complaint]. Another includes a section that refers to the trial and opinion, noting that the district court had found that the conspiracy "harmed competition and consumers." A final section makes the case for a class action as the best method to resolve questions of consumer harm.
Among its defenses, Apple maintains that there was no conspiracy, and that “at all times its conduct was reasonable and that its actions were undertaken in good faith to advance legitimate business interests and had the effect of promoting, encouraging, and increasing competition.”
In its paragraph-by-paragraph response, Apple attorneys deny that Judge Cote's July 20 opinion found that "each member of the proposed class suffered injury [point 183]” and “avers that the question of whether and to what extent the findings and conclusions in that Opinion ‘conclusively establish’ any fact in this litigation is one to be addressed by the Court after full briefing and due process [point 187].”
The defiant nature of Apple’s responses was expected, of course. The company is facing potentially hundreds of millions in money damages, as high as $924 million by Apple's own admission. But Apple’s responses to the plaintiffs' Amended Complaint (and the more than 200 points presented in the filing) demonstrate once again that, verdict or not, Apple plans to fight every inch of the way in its upcoming damages trial.
Apple has argued against class certification, positing that a broad class of e-book consumers is too broad in light of recent Supreme Court rulings. And, although Judge Cote had ordered the parties to conference in an attempt to come to a stipulation on collateral estoppel—that is, the degree to which the finding of liability in its June trial should translate into liability in the class action—it appears that issue will have to be decided by the court.
Apple has also appealed Cote’s ruling, and while the damages process remains on track for now, the court could at some point stay all proceedings pending the outcome of Apple’s appeal.