Lawyers find possible plaintiff in Apple antitrust case

An iPod Nano is seen on display at an Apple store in October 2006 in Emeryville, Calif.
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An iPod Nano is seen on display at an Apple store in October 2006 in Emeryville, Calif.

It wasn't pretty, but lawyers may have an actual plaintiff in the $1 billion class-action suit against Apple.

Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, along with both Apple and the plaintiffs' attorneys appeared to agree on a new plaintiff Tuesday afternoon: Barbara Bennett. She's a former Boston-based technology consultant, who came to the plaintiffs rescue, after flying across the country overnight.

Bennett said she bought a "red" iPod during the period covered by the suit, and seemed to have command of some of the issues in the case. She also clearly volunteered at the last minute to help the plaintiff's case. Apple's lawyers suggested she could stand to gain, if the plaintiffs won the case.

Gonzalez Rogers made it clear all day that she was not pleased with the performance of the plaintiff's lawyers and said they acted "completely contrary to the court's orders." At one point the judge said "the court will try to minimize prejudice" in this case.

The lawyers proposed five potential new plaintiffs to testify before the court Tuesday and in the coming days, but Apple strongly opposed.

Apple's lead lawyer, William Isaacson, asked the judge to throw out three new potential plaintiffs, whose names Apple's legal team was given only minutes before the opening of the trial's business.

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Ultimately, Isaacson won in that those three potential plaintiffs were thrown out by the judge, and a fourth, as well.

Isaacson said Apple's legal team only found out that Barbara Bennett at 6:45 p.m. on Monday.

At one point, Gonzalez Rogers threatened to "put the trial on hold for two days." Isaacson strongly protested that possibility, and emphasized the trial is working against the holiday clock and the jury's time.

The plaintiffs are suing Apple on behalf of close to 8 million consumers, who bought iPods between 2006 and 2009.

Bennett said she stepped forward after reading news stories in Ars Technica about the trial, but did not detail how she was harmed by any alleged anti-competitive behavior by Apple.

Toward the end of the trial on Tuesday, Gonzalez Rogers impatience and frustration with the plaintiffs' lawyers was palpable. At one point the judge said "given the plaintiffs' own problems."

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Apple is keen to move the trial forward. The drama continues Wednesday morning in Oakland, California.

Correction: This version corrected the status of Barbara Bennett in the case.