Judge Tosses Top Penguin Random House Exec’s Testimony From Antitrust Suit

A federal judge threw out testimony on Wednesday from Penguin Random House’s senior vice president after the government pointed out that the data he referenced, while testifying about his company’s $2.175 billion dollar bid to buy Simon & Schuster, was not properly verified.

Granting the government’s motion to exclude Manuel Sansigre’s Tuesday testimony on “efficiencies” data, U.S. District Judge Florence Pan said using a data model from November 2020 for a federal antitrust trial nearly two years later is problematic.

Read More: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster Antitrust Trial Commences

It is impossible to know “what the post-pandemic world” will be like, she said, and while many of the projected efficiencies in the November 2020 data model may be independently verifiable — none were, which violates the Justice Department’s horizonal merger guidelines.

The data at issue, she noted, also contains rejected efficiencies that can never be verified, as well as data inputs that have not been updated.

According to defense court filings, the data suggested the merger will increase efficiencies, thereby permitting the newly merged company to pay authors more — which it claims will have a domino effect on pushing other publishers to increase author pay as well.

Penguin’s lawyers called the DOJ’s claims “fantastical” before the trial started, and argued prosecutors don’t even grasp “the most basic elements” of modern-day publishing. Prosecutors, however, struck an important blow – in public opinion, at least – by calling on their star witness, best-selling author Stephen King