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U.S. judge sides with Netflix in antitrust lawsuit

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge granted Netflix's bid to resolve all claims in its favor before trial in an antitrust class action, in which plaintiffs had sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Netflix was sued in 2009, with plaintiffs claiming that the online DVD company reached an agreement with Walmart to divide the market for sales and online rentals of DVDs in the United States.

The class of plaintiffs had already agreed to settle with Walmart for $27.25 million in 2010. Preliminary approval to the settlement agreement has been granted, with the final approval hearing scheduled for 2012.

Yet in anticipation of an upcoming trial against Netflix, plaintiffs pegged their damages at between roughly $493 million and $654 million, according to court filings.

In a ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California granted Netflix's motion for summary judgment and vacated the trial date.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Netflix representative could not immediately be reached.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is In Re Online DVD Rental Antitrust Litigation, 09-md-2029.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by Bob Burgdorfer, Phil Berlowitz)

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