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iPod Nano lawsuits transferred to Northern California

Six lawsuits filed against Apple Computer alleging defects in the iPod Nano have been consolidated and transferred to the Northern District of California. The case was assigned to Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose, whose caseload has included Microsoft and Sun Microsystems' multiyear Java battle, a high profile criminal copyright case that pitted Adobe against a Russian company and the tussle between Microsoft and Google over Google hiring a top Microsoft exec from China.

Meanwhile, a judge on the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which consolidated the cases, disclosed that she owns an iPod Nano and renounced any claim she may have as a putative member of the class in the action, thus removing any basis for disqualification on that ground.

Three lawsuits have been filed in California and one each in New Jersey, New York and Louisiana on behalf of customers who claimed their iPod Nanos--small and thin portable digital music players with a color liquid crystal display screen--scratched excessively with normal use. The suits also allege that Apple failed to disclose and repair the alleged defect and that Apple failed to abide by the warranty.

Two additional lawsuits are pending in California and Louisiana. The panel said those actions and any others that arise will be treated as "tag-along actions" to the consolidated case.

"The Northern District of California is a likely source of relevant documents and witnesses inasmuch as Apple's headquarters are located there," the ruling said last week in granting Apple's request to transfer the cases. "Further, no party opposes centralization in this district."