A pivotal development in the legal battle surrounding Google Play’s alleged antitrust violations is underway as a U.S. District Judge, James Donato, in San Francisco contemplates the decertification of a class action involving 21 million consumers. The case asserts that Google overcharged users in its app store, thereby breaching federal antitrust regulations.
Implications for Google and Consumers
The recent decision by U.S. District Judge James Donato has the potential to significantly reshape the trajectory of the case. Should the decertification take place, Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, could face a notable reduction in the potential damages associated with its Android app distribution.
Consumers at the heart of the lawsuit argued that Google’s alleged monopoly deprived them of competitive pricing and a broader range of choices when purchasing apps. Google, on the other hand, staunchly denied any wrongdoing.
The Basis for Decertification
Judge Donato’s move to reconsider his November 2022 class certification order stems from his determination that a critical aspect of the consumers’ argument for certification was compromised. The decision not to permit an economist’s testimony as an expert witness fundamentally impacted the core premise of the plaintiffs’ case.
While immediate decertification was not executed due to ongoing appeals from Google regarding Judge Donato’s prior order, the judge directed both Google’s legal representatives and the consumers’ attorneys to explore potential resolution avenues before a scheduled September 7 hearing.
Class Action Scope and Significance
The class action in question encapsulates consumers from 12 U.S. states and five territories, distinct from a separate case involving Google initiated by various state attorneys general. Class actions permit plaintiffs to join forces, offering the potential for larger collective recoveries and a more cost-effective litigation process compared to individual lawsuits.
As the legal proceedings unfold, observers await further updates in this intricate antitrust litigation landscape that encompasses multiple states, the District of Columbia, and notable entities such as Epic Games and Match Group.
Case Title: In re Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation
U.S. District Court: Northern District of California
Case Number: 21-md-02981