[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
“This’ll be interesting,” Glenn Reynolds wrote this morning, linking to this story. Here’s the rundown. Last week I told you about how Apple was secretly tracking users movements, an appalling invasion of privacy. So this morning, Reynolds linked to this story about the lawsuit that had been filed:
Two Apple customers have filed a lawsuit accusing the Cupertino, California, company of committing violations of computer-fraud laws by recording location data of iPhone and iPad customers.
Vikram Ajjampur, an iPhone customer in Florida, and William Devito, a New York iPad customer, filed the suit in federal court April 22 in Tampa, Florida.
“The accessibility of the unencrypted information collected by Apple places users at serious risk of privacy invasions, including stalking” (.pdf), the lawsuit states….
Ajjampur and Devito are seeking class action status to represent U.S. iPhone and iPad customers. The complaint seeks an injunction requiring Apple to disable the data collection in a software update, and it also seeks damages for violations committed.
(Emphasis added.) Well, I will have to disagree with Mr. Reynolds. The most likely outcome here is that these class representatives will secure benefits primary to themselves, their lawyers will make millions, and we the people will be lucky if we get that update they are talking about. It will not be interesting, but the latest tediously predictable example of abuse in the class action system.
Consider, for example these recent class actions. For instance, there was a controversy a few years back when someone discovered some discarded game code opening up a (terrible looking) sex game in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which you could only find if you actually hacked the game. This apparently horrified parents who were apparently okay with the usual action in the Grand Theft Auto series, which includes giving players the option of having sex with a prostitute in a car (complete with rocking car and moans), and then running over said prostitute and collecting the money you just gave her for the sex. That resulted in a settlement giving up $35 in damages per customer if they seek it (at last reporting, none had). Meanwhile, the class representatives were paid almost $25,000 for their trouble and the lawyers were paid $1 million.
Or take this one. Did you know that loud noises hurt your ears? Well, according to this suit, the ordinary reasonably prudent person doesn’t know that and thus turns up their Bluetooth to 11, because they are not properly warned. The class got nothing, a few charities got some money, and representatives sought $12K and their lawyers sought $850K.
Seriously, follow Overlawyered for a month, and you will see many cases like this.
The point is that class actions are the dirtiest area in law. If you want to talk about lawsuit abuse, there is the poster child. I am not sure if they should be abolished altogether, but at the very least this is an area in serious need of reform because 1) it encourages lawsuits on the most ridiculous theories and 2) even if there is merit, the vast majority of the aggrieved get little in compensation. Indeed, we are unlikely even to get some fun discovery on the subject, here–they will most likely settle before it comes to that.
So not interesting, but a tedious example of how broken the class action system is. At least that is my prediction.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]