Judge Rules Google Avoids Jury Trial in Digital Ads Case


Alphabet’s Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will not face a jury trial over allegations of digital advertising dominance after paying $2.3 million to settle the U.S. government’s claim for monetary damages, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

In antitrust cases, non-monetary demands are decided by judges directly, so Google’s payment allows it to avoid a jury trial. This case could have marked the first-ever jury trial in a civil antitrust case brought by the U.S. Justice Department.

The Justice Department and several states sued Google last year, accusing the tech giant of unlawfully monopolizing digital advertising and overcharging users. The lawsuit primarily aims to break up Google’s digital advertising business to foster competition.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, issued the ruling on Friday and scheduled the non-jury trial for September 9, where she will hear arguments and decide the case directly.

Google has denied any wrongdoing and stated that the damages payment does not imply admission of liability. “DOJ’s contrived damages claim has disintegrated,” the company said in a statement on Friday, describing the case as a “meritless attempt to pick winners and losers in a highly competitive industry.”

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Last month, Google revealed that the government, which initially sought over $100 million in damages, had reduced its demand to less than $1 million. Google’s $2.3 million payment includes interest and accounts for the possibility of damages being tripled under U.S. antitrust law.

Google accused the federal government of fabricating its monetary damages claim to ensure a jury trial. The Justice Department countered, stating it was willing to resolve the monetary damages aspect of the case if Google agreed to a larger settlement.

“Google has fought hard to keep its anticompetitive conduct shielded from public view,” the government told Judge Brinkema last month.

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