Microsoft Faces New Antitrust Class Action In Arizona

A political subdivision near Phoenix said it wants to recover overpayments because the existing settlements do not apply to government agencies.
A local governing body near Phoenix, Ariz., has slapped Microsoft with a class action lawsuit, citing antitrust claims similar to those that resulted in a series of multimillion dollar settlements between Microsoft and consumers in more than a dozen states beginning in 2004.

Arizona's Daisy Mountain Fire District, a political subdivision, said it's reviving the claims because the existing settlements don't apply to government agencies. The Fire District said in court documents that it wants to recover "overpayments made to Microsoft for its operating systems, word processing, and spreadsheet applications software." It's also seeking triple damages and court costs.

The Fire District charges Microsoft with engaging in "anticompetitive and monopolistic practices" and is seeking a jury trial. Attorneys for the Fire District are asking the court to open the case to all governing bodies in Arizona, giving it class action status.

The Fire District quietly filed the claim earlier this summer in Arizona state court in Maricopa County. Last week, Microsoft asked the federal U.S. District Court for Arizona to take over the case.

The Fire District is repeating many of the claims made against Microsoft by the Department of Justice and attorneys general on behalf of consumers in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The allegations center on charges that Microsoft used its monopoly position to overcharge for software applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Under the settlements, Microsoft has agreed to issue millions of dollars worth of product vouchers to affected buyers.

Microsoft officials weren't immediately available for comment.

Word of the action comes as Microsoft faces ongoing antitrust scrutiny in Europe. On Monday, Europe's second highest court rejected Microsoft's appeal of almost $1 billion in fines imposed on the company by trustbusters at the European Commission.

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