Apple trial continues as lawyers search for replacement plaintiff

“A $1 billion trial against Apple Inc. over whether it illegally locked iPod users into iTunes will continue after a judge refused to suspend proceedings while lawyers look for another lead plaintiff,” Karen Gullo and Robert Burnson report for Bloomberg.

“Patrick Coughlin, an attorney for consumers who brought the lawsuit almost a decade ago, failed to persuade U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, today to put the trial on hold,” Gullo and Burnson report. “Rogers removed the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff yesterday following Apple’s discovery that she hadn’t directly purchased an iPod covered by the lawsuit. That revelation threatened to derail the case for Coughlin, who needs at least one lead plaintiff to pursue damages in the antitrust case.”

“Bill Isaacson, a lawyer for Cupertino, California-based Apple, complained that bringing in new named plaintiffs halfway through a trial is unfair,” Gullo and Burnson report. “‘There is a very serious issue here of prejudice to the defendant,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Patrick Coughlin. The farce is strong with this one.

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Apple iPod judge asks if lack of plaintiff dooms trial – December 5, 2014
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Apple’s iTunes Store goes DRM-free and 3G via iPhone; variable pricing coming soon – January 6, 2009
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Real cracks Apple’s Fairplay; to sell iPod-compatible songs without Apple’s authorization – July 25, 2004
Jobs to Glaser: Go pound sand – April 16, 2004


  1. To be fair, substituting a plaintiff makes some sense in a class action lawsuit. The particular plaintiff at the trial isn’t the focus of the lawsuit: they are there as a representative of multiple people who fit in the definition of the class action. Changing the plaintiff, while highly irregular, doesn’t really change the nature the class action suit, so long there actually are people who fit in the class action’s definition.

    I can understand why Apple’s lawyers want to actually win the case, rather than by winning on this technicality. That wouldn’t actually settle the issue brought up at the lawsuit, so the decision is unlikely to stand under scrutiny.

    1. Agree with your point. But there is an issue of the lawyers representing the class not having done due diligence. In fact, there might need to be a little examination of how they came up with first two plaintiffs. Being harsh, I could see the class filing suit against the law firm for “malpractice” and the judge requiring this law firm to pay all costs to date. Then the judge ought to dismiss the case. If some other firm wants to carry the torch, so be it.

    2. I’m not familiar with the fine points of the law, but isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Let’s commence the action first, then find a plaintiff? If class action suits can commence without a plaintiff, then why have a plaintiff at all? Courts decide issues between definite parties, not possible wrongdoing that MIGHT have occurred to millions of amorphous people out there. You hang your class action suit on a named party. If that party turns out to be a bogus one, how can you then say, well, we’ll find someone else who fits the profile? You could of course file another similar action with another plaintiff, but you should not be able to continue this particular action when the peg you hanged it on is gone. Sounds ridiculous – but like I said, the law can sometimes be an a*se.

      1. Read this article for a good summary of the case, how the class action suit system works generally as well as som specific information on this firm.

        They have been working on the idea of suing Apple over the general concept of iPod/iTunes exclusivity for many years. Suits like this while allegedly help the consumer in reality the mostly support lawyer’s inflated incomes.

  2. I might be in the class but have no clue when I bought my $5 shuffle. I do have a PoS brown Zune that I couldn’t use on iTunes. Does that qualify? Or maybe I should just sue Microsoft for selling PoS’s.

    Just give everybody in the class that has proof of purchase a $10 off coupon for the Apple store and be done with it. That’s all they deserve.

  3. Ironically, the only entity that has the detailed iPod sales records to quickly identify a “replacement plaintiff” (who bought one using a personal credit card during the required time period) is probably Apple.

    1. Yes, and there were millions of those. But how many even considered trying to download music from RealNetworks? A few, very few. How many of those few actually suffered damages as a result of Apple’s steps to prevent interoperability. Maybe the answer really is ZERO!

      These law firms really believe in the interoperability concept because it offers them lots of targets to extort money from first and foremost, and to assist consumers not so much.

      I had an iPod back in 2009 and not being able to sync it with my paltry RealNetwords download library was meaningless to me.

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