A California court has dismissed two class-action lawsuits, which accused Google of bad business behavior, on grounds that the plaintiffs couldn't provide sufficient evidence to support their claims.
The oldest suit of the two, which was filed by law firm Hagens Berman in May 2014, alleged that Google's habit of requiring Android phone makers to bundle its own suite of applications on their devices had "financially and creatively stagnated" the market for mobile internet and search.
The result, the suit claimed, was that consumers have been paying too much for their mobes. But in December, US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California threw a wet blanket on the proceedings when she described the claimed damages as "speculative" and "concerning."
Later arguments before the court did not persuade Judge Freeman and, on Friday, she dismissed [PDF] the suit, ruling that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate a direct link between the Google's alleged anticompetitive behavior in the mobile search market and the prices of phones.
"Plaintiffs have failed to allege that they have suffered 'antitrust injury' in the same market as and sufficiently close to the alleged anticompetitive conduct to allow them to pursue private antitrust remedies against Defendant," Judge Freeman wrote.
Of the six claims asserted in the lawsuit, the judge gave the plaintiffs leave to amend only two, if they wish. The suit could potentially go forward if the plaintiffs "more plausibly" argue that Google violated the Sherman Act, one of the major US antitrust laws.
The judge is also willing to hear amended arguments alleging that the Mountain View Chocolate Factory violated California's Unfair Competition law, but first the attorneys will have to find a plaintiff who lives in California. The current named plaintiffs, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, live in Kentucky and Iowa, respectively.
This wasn't the first time Judge Freeman sent Hagens Berman packing when it tried to take on Google, though. Just last week, she dismissed another class-action suit brought by the firm, this one alleging that Google knowingly canceled customers' AdSense advertising platform accounts to avoid paying them their earned revenues.
In that ruling [PDF] – which also gave the attorneys leave to amend their claims – Judge Freeman found that the plaintiffs similarly failed to present sufficient evidence of Google's bad behavior and that their contracts had been terminated because they had violated the online ad-slinger's terms of service. ®