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March 27, 2014

Iowa Consumers Receiving E-Book Settlement Refunds

Payments settle price fixing lawsuit; Iowans to receive nearly $1.5 million

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Iowa consumers this week began receiving account credits or checks in partial settlement of a 2012 electronic book price-fixing lawsuit brought by Attorney General Tom Miller and attorneys general from 32 other states.

The lawsuit named Apple, Inc. and five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country: Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, and Penguin Group (USA) Inc.  All but Apple settled the claims for $166 million, including $1,429,663 to Iowans.  The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has now approved those settlements.

An account credit or check will be based on the number of eligible e-books that a consumer purchased 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 the e-book was purchased and, in certain circumstances, on 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.

Apple declined to settle the claims against it.  Following a three-week trial last June, 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 is tentatively scheduled for May.  If successful, additional account credits or checks will be distributed to Iowa consumers.


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