The trial proceeded without a plaintiff because most class action suits are for the benefit of lawyers, not customers.
Bonney Sweeney, the antitrust attorney at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd who claims to represent the interests of 8 million aggrieved Apple customers, now represents nobody but a roomful of lawyers.
On Monday, Sweeney lost her last plaintiff, a resident of New Jersey named Marianna Rosen. It turns out the “supracompetitive” price Rosen claims to have paid in 2008 for an iPod (“greater than she would have paid, but for the antitrust violations alleged herein”) was charged to her law firm’s credit card.
Although U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers gave Sweeney until Tuesday to find a new plaintiff, the case may yet get tossed out on a technicality. That’s not what Apple — which should be able to win this one on the facts — says it wants.
It may be what Sweeney et al. deserve.
[UPDATE: Sweeney’s new plaintiff arrived Tuesday, flown in from Massachusetts. She’s Barbara Bennett, 65, a tango-loving ice dancer who learned to skate backwards and liked to listen to music on her iPod while she practiced. “Bennett’s answers to questions in court suggested she wasn’t fully up to speed on the complex allegations in the case,” the AP’s Brandon Bailey reports, but Judge Rogers said she was satisfied that Bennett, who surfaced nearly 10 years after the suit was filed, could serve as the face of the class. “You now have an appealable issue,” she told Apple’s lead attorney.]
I hadn’t thought much about class action law before this case, so I appreciated the backgrounder Daniel Fisher filed last week. According to Fisher, who covers law and finance for Forbes, it can be a dirty business.
It would be a fitting end for a case that’s already been through more than its share of twists and turns.
It began in January 2005 when Rosen and two other plaintiffs accused Apple of illegally tying the iPod to the iTunes music store. See iThe Apple iTunes Anti-Trust Litigation.
According to CNET, their complaint had to be rewritten when a court ruled that what Apple had done — build a service that only played songs purchased on iTunes or ripped from a CD — was perfectly legal.
That’s when the litigants shifted their focus to a pair of Apple security updates — 7.0 and 7.4 — that barred competing music stores from syncing with iTunes. The claim is that the updates had no purpose but to protect Apple’s iTunes monopoly.
Apple ought to be able to knock that one out of the park. See iTunes Version History.
Meanwhile, Apple’s lawyers have managed to pick off all three of the original plaintiffs. Sweeney says there are plenty more where those three came from. We’ll hear about them on Wednesday.
See also: Steve Jobs on trial in Oakland.