A US judge intends to exempt Google from having to defend itself against a class action filed by 21 million users who alleged the company violated federal antitrust law by overcharging them in its Google Play app store.
The judgment by US District Judge James Donato in San Francisco on Monday could substantially decrease the amount of money that Alphabet’s Google owes for the distribution of Android mobile applications.
Consumers stated that if Google’s supposed monopoly had not existed, they would have paid less for apps and had more options. Google has refuted all allegations of impropriety.
Donato said his Nov. 2022 class certification judgment should be overturned because his decision not to allow an economist to appear as an expert witness for the consumers, also announced Monday, removed an “essential element” of their certification argument.
The judge stated that he couldn’t immediately decertify the class since Google was appealing his November order. He urged lawyers for Google and the consumers to try to resolve the matter before a hearing on September 7.
The class action comprised customers from 12 US states and five territories who were not included in a similar complaint brought by several state attorneys general against Google
Defendants can sue as a group in class actions, perhaps obtaining higher recoveries at a lesser cost than if they had to litigate individually.
Consumer lawyers did not immediately reply to demands for comment. Google and its lawyers did not react immediately to similar queries.
The case is part of a larger antitrust complaint involving 38 states and the District of Columbia, as well as corporations such as Epic Games and Match Group.
The case is In re Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation, Northern District of California, US District Court, No. 21-md-02981.