The six-year old Iowa private antitrust class-action against Microsoft is finally heating up.  The case is set for trial November 13, 2006 but yesterday a hearing was held on Microsoft’s allegations that Plaintiffs’ lawyer, Roxanne Barton Conlin, engaged in misconduct when she persuaded a Hewlett-Packard technician to give her internal documents from another case.  Microsoft is asking that Conlin be removed from the case.

Conlin’s lawyer, Mark Tripp of the Bradshaw Law Firm, said Microsoft’s lawyers are on an ethical witch hunt in order to keep Conlin from trying the case because they don’t want to face her in court.  He also argued the information the technician had was insignificant.

The lawsuit seeks up to $450 million for Iowa consumers upon the novel legal theory of "lack of innovation".  Conlin contends that Microsoft’s anti-competitive activities during the 1990s killed many innovations that never reached consumers.

Pundits have their doubts about whether the lack of innovation theory has any merit but don’t count Conlin out.  She has a number of large verdicts to her credit including a big win over UPS where she hit them for over $80 million.  The National Law Journal has named her as one of the Top Ten trial lawyers in America.

Frankly, when I first heard about this case I had my doubts.  Could it be that Bill is afraid to take the stand after all?