(Bloomberg) -- Antitrust litigation filed by state attorneys general against Alphabet Inc.’s Google was transferred Monday to a federal court in Texas, after a judicial panel ruling that cited a law passed by Congress in December.
The decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation means a host antitrust lawsuits — by states and others over Google’s advertising technology business — will now play out in three separate federal courts in New York, Texas and Virginia.
The move back to Texas could speed up the litigation, which had been moving slowly.
“While we continue to believe the right venue for this case is the Southern District of New York – where the court has been managing these proceedings for nearly two years – we’re confident that any court will agree that the Texas Attorney General’s case is wrong on both the facts and the law,” Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said.
In December, Congress passed legislation to allow state attorneys general to pick the location where their federal antitrust suits are heard as part of a year-end spending bill. Although lawmakers removed a provision that would have made the law explicitly retroactive, the judicial panel said the new rule still applies.
The recent law “applies to pending state antitrust enforcement actions and, absent a state’s waiver of its venue rights, the Panel must grant the motion for remand,” the judicial body ruled.
A group of state attorneys general led by Texas sued Google in 2020, alleging the company illegally monopolized the advertising technology market. The lawsuit was originally filed in Texas federal court, but Google successfully sought to transfer the case to New York, where class actions related to its ad tech business were pending.
In the three years since, the suit has proceeded slowly. In September, the New York judge ruled that the states’ suit could move forward, but a trial was still likely years away.
In January, the Justice Department filed its own case against Google’s dominance over the ad tech business. The DOJ filed in Virginia federal court, which is known for moving litigation more quickly. A trial in the Justice Department’s suit is likely to begin in March 2024.
Dissatisfied with the slower pace in New York, state attorneys general petitioned to move their suit back to the original court in Texas. Google had opposed the transfer, citing the duplicative nature of the proceedings and lawmakers’ removal of the retroactivity provision.
(Updates to add Google comment in fourth graph.)
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