Customers in Apple Privacy Suit Seek Evidence Sanctions

Customers suing Apple Inc. for violating their privacy are seeking monetary sanctions in a dispute over the pretrial sharing of evidence, known as discovery, after the iPhone maker was previously scolded by a judge for its “unacceptable” conduct.

Scott Kamber, a lawyer for the customers, told U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh at a hearing today in San Jose, California, that he will seek the sanctions for misrepresentations made in the litigation before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, who is handling the case with Koh. Kamber said customers may seek additional penalties for discovery violations about which Koh has reprimanded Apple.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is accused in the lawsuit of improperly collecting data on the locations of iPhone users, even after the device’s geolocation feature was turned off, and sharing personal information with third parties.

Koh previously rejected Apple’s bid to dismiss the case after saying in a ruling last month that she was “disturbed” to learn that the company, in court filings seeking dismissal, relied on documents that it was required, and failed, to disclose to the customers.

“The court cannot rely on Apple’s representations about its compliance with its discovery obligations,” Koh said at the time.

‘Incorrect’ Statements

An Apple lawyer, Ashlie Beringer, told Koh that Apple has agreed to pay the monetary sanctions, though the two sides haven’t determined an amount. Beringer also apologized to Koh for statements about the discovery she made to the court “that I later learned were incorrect.”

Because of the errors, Koh has asked the plaintiffs to refile their request to proceed with the lawsuit as a group. Apple has argued that such class-action status should be denied because the customers haven’t shown that any of them had personal information collected without their consent, and as a result, can’t show they suffered any harm.

Kamber and Beringer declined to comment on the sanctions.

The case is In re Apple Inc. iPhone/iPad Application Consumer Privacy Litigation, 11-md-02250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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