Sunday, June 30, 2013

Legal roundup.

When I was in paralegal school, I learned that the progress of a lawsuit is an elegant dance. If you've ever watched a courtroom drama, you've seen it how it works.  The plaintiff -- the person with the grievance -- first files a complaint against the defendant -- the person the plaintiff is mad at.  The next step in most cases is for the defendant to file an answer to the complaint.  But sometimes the defendant will file a motion to dismiss, in an effort to get the whole thing thrown out of court before it goes any further.

Back in April, a group of authors who contracted for services with Author Solutions' vanity press imprints filed suit against the company.  Fortuitously, Author Solutions had just been bought by Penguin, so the authors are suing Penguin, too.  The authors want $5 million in damages, and they also want the court to grant the case class action status -- which means any settlement would, in theory, benefit any author who has ever had a contract with an Author Solutions company.  (I say "in theory" because class actions have a history of enriching the plaintiffs' lawyers while netting very little for the actual plaintiffs.)

Early last week, to nobody's surprise, Author Solutions filed a motion to dismiss.  In the motion, the company pooh-poohed the lawsuit as "a misguided attempt to make a federal class action out of a series of gripes" and suggested the authors file individual lawsuits against the company if they think Author Solutions violated the terms of their contracts.

At the same time, Author Solutions asked the court to sever Penguin from the lawsuit, saying the authors don't accuse Penguin of any misconduct.  That's true enough; as far as I can tell, the only "misconduct" on Penguin's part was buying this mess of a company without due consideration of exactly what they were getting into bed with.

No ruling on the motion yet.  Stay tuned.

Interestingly enough, the judge in the Author Solutions case is Denise Cote, who heard closing arguments on June 20th in the Apple e-book price-fixing case.  Apple continued to maintain that it had no idea the publishers were talking to one another, and that it had no intention of fixing prices.  For its part, the Justice Department told the court that not only had it established Apple's involvement in the price-fixing deal, but that it was a "per se" violation of U.S. antitrust law -- a violation so egregiously clear that the judge would have no choice but to find Apple guilty.

A verdict is expected within a few weeks.  That likely won't be the end of it -- whichever side wins, the other is likely to appeal.  But regardless, Judge Cote's decision should make interesting reading.

Guys, I have been horribly remiss.  Way back in February or so, I said that I would mention when the finalists were announced for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, even if I didn't get that far in the contest.  Well, I didn't, and I forgot all about it.  And now there's a winner.  So a round of applause, if you please, for Rysa Walker, whose novel Timebound was the winner of this year's contest.  It's apparently her first book -- a YA fantasy, which means it ought to appeal to some of you guys.

As for me...there's always next year, right?

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