We wanted to let you know that a federal judge in New York has granted class certification in an antitrust lawsuit against satellite radio giant SiriusXM and set May 2 as a trial date for the case to be heard.
In his ruling issued March 29, U.S. Judge Harold Baer of New York’s Southern District rejected a motion by Sirius for summary judgment dismissing the case and affirmed class action status for subscribers to bring antitrust claims stemming from the 2008 merger that formed the company by bringing together the only two satellite radio providers in the U.S. – Sirius and XM Radio.
Subscribers argue that the merger violated federal antitrust laws by creating a monopoly provider for satellite radio services, which has resulted in higher prices and limited competition in the industry. Rejecting SiriusXM’s arguments to deny class certification, Judge Baer wrote: “Proceeding as a class action lawsuit in the antitrust portion of the dispute is the superior method of adjudication.”
At the same time, the Judge disallowed class action status for separate consumer protection claims against the combined company. Sirius had sought to have the entire suit thrown out.
With tens of millions of subscribers represented by the class, SiriusXM faces a billion dollars of potential liability, especially since antitrust claims allows for treble damages if parties are found to have violated federal competition laws. The company also could be broken up as a result.
“We strongly believe that the merger that formed SiriusXM harmed consumers by eliminating healthy competition in satellite radio. We’re delighted that the court has cleared the way for subscribers to present to a jury their claims that the merger between the two legacy companies has restricted competition and injured consumers as a class, particularly in the wake of unchecked price increases,” saidJames Sabella, a director with law firm Grant & Eisenhofer, which serves as co-lead counsel for the class, along with law firmsMilberg LLP and Cook, Hall & Lampros LLP.