Apple antitrust case finds new consumer plaintiff
Fri 12 Dec 2014
Class action against Apple is set to continue after a 65 year-old amateur figure skater decided she would volunteer to represent consumers in the faltering antitrust case.
U.S. district judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers is reportedly satisfied that Barbara Bennett qualifies as a class member, telling the attorneys that they “were on the right track.”
The lawsuit involves iPods sold by Apple between 2006 and 2009, on which an update blocked any music downloaded from third-party companies. Plaintiffs have argued that Apple’s moves to prevent competing music services from being played created a monopoly, allowing the Cupertino-based giant to sell iPods at inflated prices.
However, Apple claim that it was forced to implement the update in order to close deals with certain record labels, and to protect its customers from malicious content.
Bennett, who used to listen to music on her 2006 iPod nano while ice skating, will now represent an estimated 8mn iTunes consumers who purchased iPods over the three-year period.
Bennett offered to volunteer in the case after reading an online news story which suggested that the suit was floundering due to a lack of a named plaintiff. The case originally went to trial nearly ten years ago with three plaintiffs; However two of them pulled out and the last one was disqualified on Monday after evidence was found to suggest the purchase of the iPod did not fall within the dates cited in the suit.
Judge Rogers has shown continued impatience with the attorneys for not being more cautious with their named plaintiffs. “We shouldn’t have been here in the first place,” she said, answering Patrick Coughlin’s complaint that Apple provided an incorrect list of affected iPod models. “You never checked […] So don’t talk to me [about that],” she continued.
The lawsuit seeks $350mn in damages – an amount which could be tripled should the jury find violations of federal antitrust laws.