A U.S. District Court judge in Texas ruled on Thursday that Google could not move an antitrust lawsuit to California to help streamline costs and witness expenses.
In October, the Department of Justice and 11 states, led by Texas, filed State of Texas v. Google LLC, a lawsuit that accused the search engine company of unfairly trying to oust rivals in the digital advertising. The lawsuit itself alleges that Google entered unlawful agreement and used deceitful tactics to keep a hold on the market and to keep advertisement payouts to publishers low.
“As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat,” says the lawsuit.
Google has denied the claims, and since January has been trying to move the trial to California to ease the burdens of having a major court case over 1,000 miles away.
In a motion filed that month, Google asked for a change of venue due to other Google lawsuits being filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California as opposed to the Eastern District of Texas. The motion even pointed out how no possible witness lives within 100 miles of the courts location of Sherman, Texas, as well as the added costs of having two locations for major lawsuits as opposed to one.
“All of these similar suits were filed in the Northern District of California, the venue where Google is headquartered and where more relevant witnesses are located than in any other district in the country,” said the motion filed by Google in January. “The states’ lawsuit in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas – a venue that has no special connection to the case and no allegations that tie Google to the division, district, or state of Texas. The states’ lawsuit does not identify a single company or person who might be a witness at trial and lives or works within 100 miles of the District Court.
“Transferring promises an extra measure of judicial economy, because it offers the prospect that one judge can oversee discovery, gain familiarity with the facts and legal issues, rule on dispositive motions, and, if necessary, preside over a trial.”
However, after five months, Eastern District of Texas Judge Sean Jordan ruled that the reasons given by Google for a change of venue were not enough.
“Google has failed to meet its burden to establish that the Northern District of California is a clearly more convenient venue for the litigation than the Eastern District of Texas,” said Judge Jordan in his denial.
The ruling, while not a total surprise, still went against what most legal analysts thought was going to happen.
“Google had everything on the table and seemed convincing,” noted Paul Szabo, a lawyer who has defended tech companies in the past, to the Globe. “The Judge just wanted more, and they didn’t have it. Now Google has to fight on unfamiliar ground.”
State of Texas v. Google LLC is one of three antitrust cases that Google is currently fighting in courts across the U.S. The trial is expected to begin in the near future.
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