Google will likely be off the hook for paying damages to 21 million users who claim in an antitrust lawsuit they were overcharged in the company’s app marketplace as a federal judge retracted a ruling that gave them class-action status.
(Bloomberg) — Google will likely be off the hook for paying damages to 21 million users who claim in an antitrust lawsuit they were overcharged in the company’s app marketplace as a federal judge retracted a ruling that gave them class-action status.
The ruling, which is yet to be finalized, would dramatically reduce potential damages facing Alphabet Inc. over claims that Google Play abuses its control over Android mobile applications. The consumer dispute is part of a sweeping antitrust fight that also includes complaints filed by attorneys general of almost three dozen states, Epic Games Inc. and Match Group Inc. over Google Play store policies.
US District Judge James Donato in San Francisco canceled his class-status order after he concluded that testimony by an expert for consumer plaintiffs “is based on assumptions about the Play Store apps that are not supported by the evidence.”
“We appreciate the court’s careful consideration of this issue,” a Google spokesperson said. “We look forward to making our case at trial.”
Lawyers representing consumers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The judge said that because the issue of class-action status is pending before a federal appeals court, he can’t unilaterally rescind his November order that grouped together consumers from 17 states who aren’t represented in the 2021 suit brought against Google by state attorneys general.
Donato asked lawyers for the consumer plaintiffs and Google to meet and figure out a way to resolve the appeals issue before a hearing set for Sept 7.
Google still has to face a Nov. 6 trial over antitrust claims by Epic and the attorneys general who are representing almost 70 million consumers.
The consumers claim Google inflated Android app prices by taking, with some exceptions, a 30% cut of sales on Google Play. State attorneys general said in their 2021 complaint that Google used anticompetitive tactics to block competition and ensure that developers have no choice but to go through the Google Play store to reach users. It then collects an “extravagant” commission of up to 30% on app purchases, the states said.
Read more: Google ‘Contemplated Buying Some or All of Epic,’ Suit Says
The case is In Re Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation, 21-md-02981, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
(Updates with Google comment)
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