Judge Rules Google Will Not Face Jury Trial In Digital Ads Case

Google digital ads case

Alphabet’s Google avoided a jury trial over its alleged digital advertising dominance after the company paid $2.3 million to cover the U.S. government’s claim for monetary damages, a federal judge ruled on Friday. Because judges directly hear non-monetary demands in antitrust cases, Google’s payment means it bypasses a jury trial. The company noted that this case would have been the first-ever jury trial in a civil antitrust case brought by the U.S. Justice Department.

The Justice Department and a coalition of states sued the tech giant last year, accusing it of unlawfully monopolizing digital advertising and overcharging users. The lawsuit primarily aims to break up Google’s digital advertising business to foster more competition. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, made the ruling on Friday and scheduled the non-jury trial for September 9, when she will hear arguments to decide the case directly.

Google denied wrongdoing and stated that by submitting a damages payment, it was not admitting liability. “DOJ’s contrived damages claim has disintegrated,” the company said in a statement on Friday, calling the case a “meritless attempt to pick winners and losers in a highly competitive industry.” A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Multiple claims

Last month, Google said the government, which had initially claimed more than $100 million in damages, had requested less than $1 million in damages. Google’s $2.3 million payment accounts for interest and the potential for damages to be tripled under U.S. antitrust law.

Google had accused the federal government of manufacturing its monetary damages claim to ensure a jury trial. The Justice Department responded that it was open to resolving the monetary damages part of its case, but only if Google paid a larger amount. “Google has fought hard to keep its anticompetitive conduct shielded from public view,” the government told Brinkema last month.