Judge Concerned Over Apple’s $450 million E-book Settlement Terms

A week after the settlement terms between Apple versus 33 US states and territories and lawyers for e-book consumers were announced, the judge reviewing the case expressed concern saying it could, depending on the appeal verdict, drastically reduce money paid to consumers (via BusinessInsider).

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Speaking at a teleconference, US District Judge Denise Cote said she found the clause demanding Apple to pay only $70 million in an appeals court “most troubling”. This contradicts her finding that Apple is liable for antitrust violations. From her perspective this would be unfair to consumers, and undervalued their claims.

Speaking on a teleconference, Cote questioned if that would be fair and what might happen if the appeals court reversed her ruling on a minor issue. She also took issue with the lack of any requirement for Apple to pay interest while the appeals go forward.

“I’m concerned about the terms of the settlement,” she said.

The $70 million sounds small in comparison to the $840 million in damages originally sought by the class action lawsuit. Even so, Apple stands to pay $450 million; that’s $400 million to customers, and $50 million to the states and plaintiffs’ lawyers, if it loses the appeal.

If Apple’s appeal is successful, it would only have to pay $50 million to customers and $20 million to the states and lawyers. In a third scenario: if the 2nd Circuit reverses Cote outright and ends the case, Apple would pay nothing.

Steve Berman, a lawyer for the affected e-book customers, said both parties would consider Cote’s concerns, although Apple hadn’t commented on the matter.