iPhone Service Plan Stokes Class Action

Posted July 13, 2010 in Consumer Law by Arthur Buono

A federal judge last week certified a class action on behalf of iPhone purchasers against Apple and AT&T Mobility. The suit claims that Apple and AT&T have monopolized the market for voice and data services by limiting iPhone users to AT&T’s service. It alleges a scheme using iPhone software to lock iPhone buyers into using AT&T’s service for five years even though they have agreed to just a two-year service commitment.

  • Apple, AT&T said to monopolize market for voice and data
  • Class actions an efficient way to resolve numerous, similar claims
  • Typical class actions involve consumer products or medical devices


Apple, AT&T Sued Over Service Lock-up

Class actions serve several purposes. They allow numerous plaintiffs to bring a single case where suing separately might not be worth it. Typical claims involve consumer products, defective drugs, or discrimination harming hundreds or thousands of people. Class actions also allow defendants to bring together numerous claims in one place and time instead of litigating common issues in many courts at various times. In this case against Apple and AT&T anyone who has purchased an iPhone with a two-year service plan may join the suit.

A class action needs a lead plaintiff. This person represents all the other persons in the class and lends a name to the case. The lead plaintiff’s claim must be like the claims of the other class members in key ways. The lead plaintiff takes on several other responsibilities that class members otherwise would have to carry themselves.

Apple and other large, profitable companies are no strangers to class actions. Class actions generally are efficient ways to resolve claims. Controversy follows the class action, with some critics claiming it can be abused to force companies into nuisance settlements that only benefit the lawyers. It’s up to the judge to ensure a fair settlement in the plaintiffs’ interests. The law has recognized the class action for many years and it will continue to be an important form of lawsuit affecting many Americans each year.

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