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D.C. Attorney General Pushes to Revive Suit Accusing Amazon of Price-Fixing

 |  December 7, 2023

In a bid to revive its lawsuit against tech giant Amazon, the District of Columbia attorney general’s office presented arguments before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Court of Appeals on Thursday. The city alleges that Amazon engaged in anticompetitive practices, artificially driving up prices on its platform and beyond through restrictions imposed on third-party sellers and wholesalers.

The case, initially filed by the District, was dismissed by a D.C. Superior Court judge in 2022, a decision now under scrutiny by the appeals court. The city’s attorney argued during the hour-long hearing that the trial judge had “ignored” crucial factual allegations, which, if considered, would provide a sufficient basis for the antitrust case to proceed.

The heart of the District’s lawsuit centers around accusations of anticompetitive agreements by Amazon, including claims that the e-commerce giant unlawfully prohibited merchants on its platform from offering lower prices elsewhere. D.C. Court of Appeals Judge John Fisher raised questions about the specificity of the District’s complaint, wondering why it was not submitted with “more concrete facts.”

Read more: Amazon Challenges EU’s ‘Large Online Platform’ Law

Caroline Van Zile, the District’s top appellate lawyer, responded to Judge Fisher’s query by stating that while providing additional concrete facts was a possibility, it was not a requirement. Van Zile emphasized that the District sought “the opportunity to make our case” and believed they had sufficient allegations to do so.

Amazon, in response to the allegations, has consistently denied violating the District’s laws prohibiting business arrangements that stifle competition. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings, while the D.C. attorney general’s office had no immediate comment.

The outcome of this appeal could have significant implications for the ongoing debate surrounding the market dominance and business practices of major tech companies, with Amazon being closely watched for potential antitrust violations not only in the District of Columbia but also on a broader scale. As the legal battle continues, it remains to be seen how the appeals court will weigh the arguments presented and whether the District will be granted the opportunity to proceed with its antitrust case against the e-commerce giant.

Source: Reuters