Complainants oppose delay of discovery in e-book pricing case

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In a letter filed in court this week, lawyers for a class of potential consumers alleging an eBook pricing conspiracy between Amazon and Big Five publishers told the court they would oppose an offer. expected to suspend the discovery of the case.

The letter comes after attorneys for Amazon and publishers last week told investigating magistrate Debra Freeman that they would suspend the investigation, arguing the case against them was unfounded and likely to be rejected.

But in a five-page response filed this week, Steve Berman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, insisted a stay was not warranted and argued that since the court is unlikely to decide the defendants’ motion to dismiss before January 2022, “remaining uncovered until then creates” a risk of unfair harm “caused by” the erasure of memories with the passage of time “.

“In short, the motion proposed by the defendants is without merit,” Berman told the court. “They are simply contesting the adequacy of the claims without identifying any case law that affirmatively excludes the complainants’ claims.”

In a rule 26 (f) filing this week, plaintiffs’ attorneys proposed what they called a “deferred” discovery plan that would soon see a “discrete set of critical discoveries” begin, including production of contracts, documents produced to government agencies. who investigated the e-book industry and e-book sales data.

But in a separate 8-page file, attorneys for Amazon and publishers told the court that starting the discovery would be an undue burden pending resolution of their dismissal petition, cited “serious grounds” for dismissal, and claimed. described the alleged plot as “implausible”. “

As plaintiffs oppose a stay of discovery in the case, Berman told the court they are not opposing a hearing to discuss the case. As of press time, the court has not set a conference date.

First filed in January 2021 against Amazon and the Big Five (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House), the complaint alleges that publishers’ use of various most-favored-nation clauses in their contracts with Amazon is proof of an agreement “to prevent competitive pricing”.

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