Lawyers for a potential class of e-book consumers have asked a federal judge to consolidate four cases alleging an e-book price-fixing conspiracy among Amazon and the Big Five publishers. The move was not unexpected. Seattle-based firm Hagens Berman was the first to file a federal price-fixing suit against Amazon last month but the filing of such copycat cases is a common practice in consumer class action.
In a letter and proposed order filed with the court late last week, attorneys for the proposed consolidated consumer class asked judge Gregory H. Woods to join the cases and to set a new schedule.
“Consolidation is appropriate here, where all four actions assert the same price-fixing and monopoly claims, based on the same allegations that Amazon and its co-conspirators’ anti-competitive agreements causes consumers to be overcharged for e-books purchased through retailers that compete with Amazon,” reads a joint letter to the court filed by the plaintiff attorneys.
Under the proposed order, the plaintiff attorneys would file their consolidated amended complaint “within 45 days after entry of an order consolidating the Actions” and would appoint of an “interim counsel” for the potential class. Amazon would then have 45 days from the filing of a new consolidated complaint to respond. If that response is a motion to dismiss, as is expected, the plaintiffs would then have 45 days to reply to the motion, and the defendants reply would be due 30 days after that.
Last week, Hagens Berman filed an amended complaint adding the Big Five publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster) as defendants. The three follow-on actions name only Amazon as a defendant, although it is likely the amended consolidated complaint would also add the publishers.
The four cases are: Fremgen v. Amazon.com, Inc.; Sacks v. Amazon.com, Inc.; Weinberger v. Amazon.com, Inc.; and Bonilla v. Amazon.com, Inc.
In 2011, Hagens Berman was the first to file an e-book price fixing case against Apple and a group of five major publishers, which was swiftly followed by about a dozen follow-on cases. Those cases were consolidated into a single action, with Hagens Berman, as the first to file, appointed lead counsel.