Stephen King testifies; Musk strikes back; Boeing 787 gets OK: 3 legal stories to watch

Stephen King testifies; Musk strikes back; Boeing 787 gets OK: 3 legal stories to watch

The usually quiet month of August this week kicks off with a trial Monday over the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit challenging Penguin Random House’s pending acquisition of rival Simon & Schuster.

We’re also watching Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk’s countersuit against Twitter (TWTR), which he filed Friday as part of his ongoing efforts to walk away from his $44 billion agreement to acquire the social media site.

And after more than a year of delays, Boeing (BA) reportedly has the Federal Aviation Administration’s clearance on its plan to repair and resume deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner. Here’s more on the three legal stories we’re watching this week:

Trial begins over publishing dominance

Penguin Random House, the world’s largest book publisher, is scheduled to begin a trial in Washington, DC, on Monday to defend the Justice Department’s federal antitrust lawsuit seeking to stop its $2.2 billion deal to acquire rival Simon & Schuster.

The deal, reached in 2020, would reduce the number of U.S. publishers from five to four.

The Justice Department contends the deal would allow Penguin Random House to control close to half the market for publishing rights acquisitions — leaving consumers with fewer choices. The department also argues that the deal would drive down compensation paid to authors for their work.

The legendary novelist Stephen King — author of books including “The Shining,” “Carrie,” and “Misery” — is slated to testify on behalf of the government.

Stephen King during a book signing in November 9, 2006 Photo by Richard Keith Wolff/Avalon/Getty Images

Twitter v. Musk adds Musk v. Twitter

Musk struck back against Twitter (TWTR) on Friday in a countersuit as part of his ongoing efforts to avoid going through with his deal to buy the company for $44 billion. The Tesla (TSLA) CEO filed the counterclaim confidentially, hiding it from public view. A counterclaim could frustrate the case’s timeline already set for trial in October, given that time is generally set for the parties to exchange and review documents.

Last week the Delaware Chancery Court’s chief judge granted Twitter an expedited trial to take place over five days in October. The judge also granted Musk’s request for an Oct. 17 start date. Twitter is seeking the fast-paced trial to avoid what it says are irreparable harms of ongoing business disruptions and stock market volatility.

Twitter argues in its lawsuit that Musk should be required to go through with the deal because his reasons for terminating it fall outside the contract and are mere cover for buyer’s remorse. Musk, on the other hand, argues that he’s entitled to walk away from the deal because Twitter is supposedly refusing to give him data he wants on the number of fake accounts that operate on its platform.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner gets green light

A regulatory hold-up that has frustrated Boeing’s (BA) commercial aircraft business was lifted in large part Friday when the Federal Aviation Authority approved its plans to repair and resume deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, according to multiple reports. The change will permit the company to start realizing approximately $10 billion in cash that was idled by the stop-down on deliveries, Bloomberg reported.

The FAA halted Boeing Dreamliner deliveries in May 2021 over safety concerns related to the plane’s fuselage construction, after Boeing voluntarily stopped delivering the aircraft in late 2020. On Friday, the agency reportedly granted preliminary clearance so that Boeing could begin making the proposed repairs, and resume deliveries as soon as August.

The FAA’s requirements for repairs to the Dreamliner compounded Boeing’s existing struggles to return its 737 Max aircraft to the skies. Regulators around the globe grounded the aircraft after two separate crashes of its model 8 series killed all 346 passengers and crew on board.

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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