Case Summaries – Class Actions
Comes v. Microsoft (2006 – 2007)
Roxanne Conlin served as Plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in this indirect purchaser antitrust class action brought on behalf of Iowa consumers. We said Microsoft illegally monopolized and engaged in unreasonable restraints of trade for operating system and productivity applications software and Iowa consumers were overcharged for various Microsoft software packages, including MS-DOS, Windows, Word, Excel and Office.
We obtained a $179.95 million settlement from Microsoft after three intense months of trial in Polk County District Court. Microsoft agreed to provide up to $179.95 million in cash to consumers and vouchers to volume purchasers who purchased Microsoft operating systems and applications between May 18, 1994 and June 30, 2006. Governments could apply for refunds for a four year period. The Comes settlement is unique because unlike any other indirect purchase class action settlement with Microsoft to date, the Comes settlement provided consumers with cash payments, and up to $200 without proof of purchase.
In addition, the terms of the Comes settlement will benefit Iowa’s public schools. Microsoft agreed in the settlement that they will commit half of the unclaimed proceeds in vouchers to disadvantaged K-12 schools for the purchase of software and hardware. Approximately 70 million dollars has been given to Iowa schools and Iowa is the only state that included cash payments. $1 million of the unclaimed proceeds was contributed to the Iowa Department of Education to fund administration of the technology program. In addition, $1 million of the unclaimed proceeds was provided to the Iowa Legal Aid Society. On a per capita basis, the results obtained by Iowa Class Counsel are about double the settlements in every other indirect purchaser class action settlement with Microsoft.
The case took seven years to litigate, was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court three different times, and was one of the largest cases in Iowa history.
- Three months of trial, following almost seven years of litigation;
- More than 286 discovery requests on Microsoft;
- More than ten motions to compel discovery;
- Twenty-five million pages of documents produced in discovery;
- More than 24 expert reports;
- Sixteen motions in limine;
- Nine motions for partial summary judgment;
- Three rounds of collateral estoppel briefing (and additional related motion practice); and
- More than 117,000 hours of Iowa Class Counsel time.
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Martin I. Cohen v. Board of Directors of MidAmerican Energy (2003)
This is a class action brought as a result of the merger of MidAmerican Energy and Teton Acquisition Corporation. The class said that the Board did not get the full value of the company in the transaction, and deprived shareholders of MidAmerican of appropriate compensation. The class of MEC shareholders was certified and the case was settled in 2003 for $7.5 million dollars.
Race Discrimination Class Actions
Meeks v. Allen Memorial Hospital (2013)
Pack, Ward, Fortune & Williams v. Thomas Baldwin d/b/a Coconut Joes; Gen. Corp, Inc. d/b/a Generations; DTMC, L.L.C. d/b/a Big Kahuna’s; D. T. Corner, Inc. d/b/a Papa’s Planet; Last Titan Productions, L.L.C. d/b/a Iguana Jakes; Graffiti’s, L.L.C. d/b/a Graffiti’s, Larry Smithson; Thomas Baldwin; Pat McNulty; J. Michael McCoy and Michael Fry (2000)
Nightclubs in Des Moines used a variety of tactics to keep African Americans out. Sometimes the door personnel would challenge the valid identification of African Americans. Each club had a dress code, but the dress code enforcement depended on race. Mike Ward and a white friend tested this issue. His white friend sought admission to a local nightclub wearing Mike’s shirt. He was admitted without any challenge. He left after a short time and he met Mike in a nearby parking lot, where Mike changed into the very same shirt his friend had been wearing. Mike then sought admission to the same nightclub and was denied on the basis of the “dress code.” The events were all recorded in an award winning TV series done by Erin Kiernan.
We learned of other discrimination in our investigation and we learned that even if African Americans were admitted, they were harassed inside the clubs, and often “thrown out” for invented infractions. One of the owners would say “It’s getting pretty dark in here” as a signal to his bouncers to get African Americans out of the club.
The cases were resolved before the class was certified. Many changes were made in the way nightclubs do business in Des Moines. For example, dress codes specifying particular brands of clothing were eliminated. Behavior of bouncers was changed and monitored. The individual cases were resolved for a confidential amount.