Apple has had just about enough of Michael Bromwich, the court-appointed antitrust compliance monitor tapped to oversee its e-book pricing reforms.
Attorneys for the iPhone maker on Tuesday asked a federal judge to remove Bromwich, arguing that a statement he filed with the court last month is evidence of his lack of impartiality. Filed in December, that statement described what Bromwich claimed was Apple’s failure to turn over relevant documents and grant him access to senior executives. Apple, which believes Bromwich is overreaching, said its language and framing suggest the man has a personal bias against it.
“Mr. Bromwich’s now-open opposition to Apple and collaboration with plaintiffs prevent him from legally and constitutionally serving as this Court’s agent under Rule 53,” Apple said in its filing. “As an ‘advocate for the plaintiffs,’ acting like an Executive Branch official, Mr. Bromwich cannot impartially fulfill the role this Court gave him in the Final Judgment; he must therefore be disqualified and a stay should be granted. Whereas this Court intended ‘to rest as lightly as possible on the way Apple runs its business,’ Mr. Bromwich thinks he has a license to ‘crawl into [the] company,’ and as a result continues to demand that Apple ‘take down barriers’ to his access so he can set up shop in Apple’s boardroom and executive offices in Cupertino for two years in order to monitor and change the corporate culture.”
A few pages later, Apple goes in for the kill, decrying Bromwich as an infiltrating government agent. “While plaintiffs defend Mr. Bromwich’s conduct because he is only investigating Apple’s conduct and reporting to plaintiffs, that only proves Apple’s point: He is acting like an FBI agent — an Executive Branch official — not a judge.”
More harsh words in an already contentious battle. Apple and Bromwich have been fighting for months over everything from the scope of his oversight to his fees, which the company — citing a bill of $138,432.40 for his first two weeks of work — says are unreasonable.
Bromwich, of course, disagrees, arguing that Apple has no role in determining the breadth of his oversight or in negotiating his fees.
Here’s Apple’s filing in full.