The U.S. monopoly
The deluge of litigation has the potential to force the search giant to pay billions of dollars in settlements, according to legal experts.
The Justice Department’s case filed Tuesday will be “followed by a wave of private cases,” said
The parties in a 2005 class action lawsuit over MasterCard’s and Visa’s swipe fees, which included 12 million merchants,
In addition to the legal resources Google will have to muster to defend the cases, they can be financially onerous because antitrust laws allow private parties to recover triple damages if they prevail. The complaints likely will be filed in venues scattered across the nation and many will eventually be consolidated into a single case before one judge, experts said.
“Within a week, there’ll be a hundred private cases filed,” Coughlin said. “There’s no waiting.”
Google, which controls about 90% of the online search market in the country, is now facing the biggest U.S. monopolization complaint since the government sued
Google called the government’s case “deeply flawed” and said it could raise phone prices.
More state-led cases are in the pipeline. States including Colorado, Iowa, and Nebraska are also probing Google’s search practices, while Texas is investigating the company’s position in digital advertising.
The private lawsuits may be brought both by rival companies and consumers claiming they’ve been harmed by the same conduct alleged in the federal or state cases. The suits often piggy-back on those cases, incorporating facts and allegations that officials have unearthed or won court judgments on.
For instance, AOL Time Warner sued
Spencer Weber Waller, a professor at Loyola University Chicago’s law school, said he expects Google to face a similar scenario to Microsoft. Waller, who consulted on a Canadian case against Microsoft, said Google could also be exposed to private claims from abroad.
Rivals may be more likely than consumers to follow the Justice Department’s case, while both consumers and competitors might want to follow state cases that are still in the works, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst
The Texas case, which is expected to be filed in the coming weeks, may emphasize how Google’s dominance can lead to higher prices, which could attract consumer claims, said Rie.
“Wherever there’s a dollar sign, that’s where we’re going to see the private plaintiffs,” Rie said.
Google faces an unrelated
Some lawmakers are trying to make it easier for such lawsuits to be filed. Earlier in October, a Democratic-led House subcommittee that’s been investigating competition in big tech recommended that Congress consider strengthening “private enforcement” by eliminating barriers to private lawsuits.
Waller said that antitrust plaintiffs attorneys have likely been studying how to bring lawsuits against Google that could last years.
“I think they’re thrilled that the government has brought this case,” he said.
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