Bryan Cohen Jul. 17, 2014, 7:48pm

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a proposed $400 million multi-state settlement on Wednesday with Apple Inc. that would resolve allegations of price-fixing its electronic books (eBooks).

In July 2013, a U.S. District Court found that Apple violated federal and state antitrust laws by orchestrating a conspiracy with five publishers to artificially raise prices for eBooks between 2010 and 2012 to eliminate retail price competition. Apple allegedly conspired with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, doing business as Macmillan; Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; and Simon & Shuster Inc. in the price-fixing scheme.

The proposed $400 million settlement between Apple and the attorneys general of 33 states would resolve claims for consumer damages and would avoid a trial scheduled for August.

The agreement is contingent on the resolution of Apple's appeal of the U.S. District Court verdict and remains subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"Price collusion amongst competitors is unacceptable and this agreement will ensure that those responsible are held accountable," Coakley said. "We are hopeful that this settlement will go through so that affected consumers can receive significant refunds as a result of these violations."

If the July 2013 ruling is definitively affirmed on appeal, consumers nationwide will receive relief. If the ruling is not affirmed, the settlement provides for a smaller recovery or no recovery if appellate courts definitively reverse the verdict.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Massachusetts consumers would receive more than $12 million in refunds, according to estimates.

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