Judge Denise Cote on Friday granted final approval to a deal that would settle money damages arising from Apple’s e-book price-fixing case. But consumers shouldn’t be counting their money just yet.
Under terms of the deal, which Cote called “unusual,” Apple will pay $400 million to consumers only if the liability finding survives the appeal process; it will pay $50 million if the liability question is vacated or remanded for further proceedings. If the liability finding is reversed on appeal, Apple will pay nothing.
As she did for the previous publisher settlements, Cote approved Apple's settlement from the bench after a final fairness hearing. Final approval was expected. The judge had initially voiced concerns with the settlement over the summer, but granted preliminary approval to the deal in August, after being persuaded by attorneys that, if the case is remanded for “administrative or non-substantive grounds” not related to her liability finding, the $400 million payout would still apply.
The Second Circuit is set to hear arguments on Apple’s appeal of Judge Cote’s 2013 liability finding on December 15. Still, the agreement affords the parties the opportunity to appeal her liability finding all the way to the Supreme Court, so a final payout could be many months, if not years away.
Some media outlets have incorrectly noted that 23 million consumers could share in the potential refunds. However, as the firm handling the payouts explained to PW, the payouts actually apply to 23 million “consumer accounts.” Many consumers hold accounts with multiple retailers (Apple, Amazon, etc.) and/or multiple accounts at a single retailer, thus the number of consumers participating is considerably lower than 23 million.