Apple eBook settlement now in question, as judge raises concerns it could harm consumers

Apple eBook pricing settlement

In March of 2014, a federal judge approved class action status for Apple’s legal troubles regarding reported instances of eBook price fixing. In July it was reported that a settlement had been reached, but now even that is in question.

According to a new report from Business Insider, the judge connected to the eBook settlement case, the individual in charge of approving the $450 million settlement decision, has raised concerns over the decision. From the report:

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said she found “most troubling” a clause requiring Apple to pay only $70 million if an appeals court reversed her finding that the company is liable for antitrust violations and sent it back to her for further proceedings.

As it stands right now, Apple was found guilty of fixing eBook prices. They are currently in the process of appealing that decision, and since then the settlement is a result of what happens in the event of three different possible outcomes with that appeal. Meaning, if Apple were to win the appeal, they would not have to pay anything at all. If they lose the appeal, however, they will have to pay upwards of $50 million in legal costs, and an additional $400 million in compensation for consumers.

The issue that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is having, is with the third potential outcome, in which the appeals court overturns the original decision that was already made, and sends the issue back into the system for a new hearing altogether. In that case, Apple would still have to pay, but the total would be reduced to $70 million, with only $50 million going to compensation for consumers.

This isn’t the first roadblock to arise from the case itself. An appeals court has already denied Apple’s request to stay a compliance monitor earlier in the year, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

[via Business Insider]