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Judge denies Apple motion to dismiss states' e-books suit

Apple's closing slide in its e-book antitrust case. | Source: U.S. District Court

A federal judge on Tuesday denied Apple's motion to dismiss a lawsuit leveled by state attorneys general over e-book price fixing, allowing a trial that could cost the company up to $840 million to move forward.

In an opinion and order, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote disagreed with Apple's contention that 33 states and territories lack standing to pursue the company for damages relating to e-book price fixing.

As part of her decision, the jurist cited legal precedent, as well as her own ruling in March that granted class status to consumers suing Apple in the same case. With Apple's roadblock motion out of the way, 33 states and territories can now join the suit seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages as a result of Apple's e-book price fixing, reports Reuters.

Referring to her prior class status ruling, Judge Cote said the following:

Finally, in the related class action this Court certified a class on March 28, 2014. In doing so, the Court carefully examined and rejected each of the challenges brought by Apple against certification. None of those challenges gave cause for any concern that Apple's due process rights are at stake from an effort to obtain damages for its violation of the federal antitrust laws.

Apple argued that due process was being usurped by allowing the states' parens patriae actions, under which state attorneys general represent citizens, without first moving for class certification. The decision to deny is in line with the jurist's prior rulings in the case, including those handed down during the Department of Justice's antitrust suit which acts as a base for subsequent court actions.

The upcoming damages trial, to be heard on July 14, will come almost exactly one year after Judge Cote ruled Apple as liable in conspiring with five major book publishers to falsely inflate the price of e-books sold through the iBookstore.

Following the guilty verdict, the court applied an injunction against Apple requiring the company not enter offending agreements with publishers or other business entities. In addition, Judge Cote installed external antitrust compliance monitor Michael Bromwich to ensure Apple's continued adherence to the law.

It was revealed in February that state attorneys general are seeking $280 million in damages, an amount that could be trebled to $840 million.