Judge grants class-action status to subscribers in anti-trust suit against Netflix

A group of Netflix subscribers who allege the company and Wal-Mart conspired to monopolize the DVD market have been granted class-action certification by a federal judge in California.

Judge Phyllis Hamilton, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, late last month wrote that the plaintiffs are "united by common and overlapping issues of fact and law."

The subscribers' suit says the two companies in 2005 worked together to split up the DVD market, with Netflix agreeing not to sell DVDs and Wal-Mart agreeing not to rent them. The suit says the deal coincided with Blockbuster's move to rent DVDs online.

In a preliminary settlement, Wal-Mart, on Dec. 14, agreed to pay up to $40 million to affected consumers

"The plaintiffs believe this settlement is fair and reasonable and they are pleased they were able to reach this resolution with Wal-Mart," Robert Abrams, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told Bloomberg in an e-mailed statement. He said the plaintiffs "look forward to proceeding with the case against Netflix and resolving it through trial or settlement."

A Netflix spokesman said "the case has no merit and we're going to continue to defend it." He declined comment on the Wal-Mart settlement.

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