Lawsuit Against Apple Over Android-Switching iMessage Issue Fails to Gain Class-Action Status
Apple yesterday won a significant ruling against a group lawsuit filed by a former iPhone user who sued the Cupertino company after claiming that switching from an iPhone to an Android smartphone interfered with her receipt of text messages (via Bloomberg).
The plaintiff, Adrienne Moore, noted in her complaint originally filed in May 2014 that an inability to unlink her phone number from iMessage prevented her from receiving text messages sent by iPhone users to her Samsung Galaxy S5 running Android. The lawsuit claimed users switching away from the iPhone to other devices were "penalized and unable to obtain the full benefits of their wireless-service contracts" due to the issue, with Moore and her lawyers alleging Apple failed to successfully elaborate on the "interference" that switching platforms would cause.
The lawsuit sought group status for the claim, which would automatically include all affected users and potentially result in a significant settlement or court judgment, but U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh yesterday ruled the suit can't continue as a group lawsuit because it wasn't clear enough that all included members were actually affected by the occurrence described by Moore. Koh decided there was no direct "contractual breach or interference" relating to a problem within the iMessage system itself, thereby giving Apple a victory on the case.
Even if Moore is correct in arguing iMessage has “systematic flaws that could result in the disruption of text messaging services, that determination does not assist the court in determining whether iMessage actually caused the proposed class members to suffer any interference,” Koh wrote in her ruling.
The ruling is a win for Apple because allowing the case to proceed stood to increase the iPhone maker’s potential costs in defending the case, and could have given plaintiffs leverage to negotiate a deal.
The lawsuit began in May of 2014, with customers noting iMessage issues after switching over to a non-Apple platform since the service was introduced in 2011. Despite Apple's move to address the issue by offering a tool for users to deregister their phone numbers from iMessage, it was ruled last November that the company would indeed face a federal lawsuit on the iMessage issue.