The plaintiffs’ bar continues to march forward in bringing privacy-related class actions. As we’ve written before, companies have often been able to defeat such lawsuits at the pleading stage when plaintiffs cannot allege that they suffered a harm that was concrete or cognizable. But that trend has not been universal: In a recent case involving Apple, the federal court for the Northern District of California refused to dismiss the majority of claims, in large measure because the plaintiff alleged that she relied on the company’s online representations concerning the privacy and security of personal information.
When a company’s computer systems are raided by hackers, all too often it must brace itself for being victimized a second time by the class action bar. Plaintiffs frequently target such companies for class actions on behalf of the consumers whose data might have been exposed as a result of the potential data breach.
The fact that the consumers rarely have experienced any real harm can be the Achilles’ heel of these data-breach class actions. “World of Warcraft” creator Blizzard Entertainment Inc. was able to capitalize on this vulnerability when a court dismissed most of a putative class action against…
Continue Reading Failure to Allege Harm Narrows Data-Breach Suit
Over the past two years, a big growth area for plaintiffs’ lawyers has been cases challenging the use of zip codes or other identifying information by merchants that process credit-card transactions.
In 2011, the California Supreme Court held in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores that a zip code constitutes “personal identification information” under California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, thus potentially exposing retailers to civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation if they request and record the zip codes of customers paying by credit card. (My colleagues John Nadolenco and Archis Parasharami did a teleconference about Pineda that you can listen…
Continue Reading Where Will the Zip Code Class Actions Be Filed Next?
A key question in many privacy class actions is whether the plaintiff has suffered an injury sufficient to confer Article III standing. Quite a number of these actions have been dismissed for lack of standing. The plaintiffs’ bar therefore has been brainstorming new theories of injury in the hope that one of them will be deemed sufficient to allow the case to remain in court (and open the door to expensive discovery). A recent order by Judge White of the Northern District of California in Yunker v. Pandora Media, Inc. addresses—and rejects—some of these theories.
The lawsuit involves Pandora’s mobile…
Continue Reading Do Plaintiffs Have Standing To Sue Over Alleged Reduction In The Value Of Their Personal Data?
In recent months, we have seen growing interest in potential privacy issues in the context of mobile applications. Earlier this month, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released an official report—“Privacy On the Go: Recommendations for the Mobile Ecosystem”—with new privacy recommendations for the mobile industry. The report, while providing a “template” for best practices, suggests that app manufacturers take steps beyond what is required under current law. Please take a look at our assessment of the report—and the potential that it will be used by plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking a new source for privacy class actions.
Continue Reading Privacy and Mobile Apps: The California AG Speaks Out
Readers of this blog are likely familiar with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TPCA”), the law that prohibits certain types of calls using an automatic telephone dialing system or prerecorded message. The plaintiffs’ bar has filed numerous class actions seeking statutory damages under the TCPA. Businesses facing these actions should be alert for opportunities to defend themselves by invoking the TCPA’s exception from liability for calls made with the “prior express consent” of the recipient. A recent decision, Balthazor v. Central Credit Services, Inc., No. 10-cv-62435 (S.D. Fla.), illustrates how this exception can be used to defeat class certification in TCPA class actions.
Continue Reading Balthazor: Individualized Questions as to Consent Torpedo Attempt to Certify TCPA Class Action
Last week, the FCC requested comments on four petitions for declaratory rulings relating to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), the law that launched a thousand class-action lawsuits (or at least seems that way). One petition (pdf), by Revolution Messaging, LLC, asks the FCC to classify text messages sent via the Internet as subject to the TCPA.
The TCPA provides for statutory damages to (among others) cell phone users who receive unsolicited non-emergency calls from “automatic telephone dialing systems.” The FCC has always maintained that text messages qualify as “calls” under the statute. But recent advances in technology have blurred…
Continue Reading FCC Requests Comments on Whether TCPA Applies to Internet-to-Text-Message Services
October has been a good month to be a plaintiff in a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) in the Ninth Circuit. Twice this month, that court has issued pro-plaintiff rulings, upholding a preliminary injunction against one defendant and reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment to another defendant. See Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC, No. 11-56600 (9th Cir. Oct. 12, 2012); Chesbro v. Best Buy Stores, LP, No. 11-35784 (9th Cir. Oct. 17, 2012).
The TCPA restricts calls using an “automatic telephone dialing systems” or artificial or prerecorded voice messages. Absent “prior express consent” or an emergency, no one may make such calls to a mobile phone number. The TCPA also restricts prerecorded (or artificial voice) telephone solicitations to a residential number. TCPA class actions are becoming increasingly common, in large part because the statute provides for damages of $500 per violation. In Meyer and Chesbro, the Ninth Circuit offered a survey of many of the recurring issues in TCPA class actions.…
The plaintiffs’ bar loves the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”)—which prohibits certain unsolicited phone calls and text messages—because it provides for statutory damages of up to $1,500 per violation and thus is a great vehicle for shakedown class actions against businesses. One recent wave of questionable TCPA class actions asserts that messages sent to confirm receipt of unsubscribe requests violate the TCPA. Although the notion is absurd, some businesses targeted by these lawsuits have agreed to settlements rather than risk defending themselves in the court hand-picked by the plaintiff.
But last week, a federal district court in California finally ruled on a motion to dismiss in one such class action—and granted it.…