Senior Judge Recuses Self from Amazon Antitrust Case

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In an unexpected development surrounding the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust proceedings against Amazon, Senior Judge John Coughenour has voluntarily recused himself, stepping away from the significant case which stands to challenge the retail giant’s market conduct. The development was revealed via a court document made public on Wednesday.

After being appointed to manage the lawsuit on Tuesday, Coughenour, a Reagan-era appointee, took the unusual step of distancing himself from the case without providing a specific justification. His departure from the case comes within hours of it being launched in a federal court in Seattle.

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With Coughenour’s departure, the weighty case has been reassigned to US District Judge John Chun, as courtesy of the court’s rotation protocol. Chun, recently nominated by President Joe Biden last year, brings his wealth of experience to the role, having formerly presided over the Washington State Court of Appeals.

The origins of the lawsuit stem from allegations by the FTC, who have accused Amazon of capitalizing on its status as a dominant e-commerce behemoth in prejudiced ways. The crux of the allegation points towards the company’s favoritism of its products over goods offered by merchants selling at more competitive prices on alternative platforms.

Additionally, Amazon finds itself embroiled in numerous other antitrust proceedings, albeit of lesser magnitude, lodged by private consumers over the past few years. These cases are still pending within the same federal court system. The FTC argues that the same presiding judge should handle their case to sidestep potential conflict or the needless duplication of work. As it stands, Judge Ricardo Martinez presides over these concurrent lawsuits.