Consolidated iPhone 3G lawsuits head to Apple’s backyard

A panel of federal judges consolidated a dozen lawsuits alleging performance problems and misleading marketing in Apple's iPhone 3G. According to ComputerWorld, the panel combined them into one action that will be heard in San Francisco--near Apple's headquarters. The move brings the issue one step closer to class-action status, which could potentially cover millions of iPhone 3G owners and give Apple lawyers a major headache.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which comprises seven judges and decides whether to combine similar lawsuits in separate districts, ruled that 12 different lawsuits from across the country be consolidated in the Northern District of California, which is based in San Francisco. The panel noted that Apple's headquarters are located in this district and "relevant witnesses and documents will likely be found there"--language implying Apple's iPhone designers may well be called on to defend the company's touchscreen cell phone.

The lawsuits involved in the ruling began trickling in shortly after the release last summer of Apple's 3G iPhone, alleging the device failed to adequately connect to AT&T's network and was slower than advertised. Apple released a series of software updates shortly after the device's debut, apparently aimed at addressing the problems, though the company never disclosed the specific reason for the updates.

Several of the now-combined lawsuits sought class-action status, and presumably the newly consolidated action will also. If the lawsuit becomes a class action, is could potentially cover millions of iPhone 3G owners.

Interestingly, the news comes just a few weeks after the release of the iPhone 3GS, which Apple said is significantly faster than last year's model and features an updated wireless connection.

For more:
- see this ComputerWorld article

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