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A proposed $6 million settlement between Google Inc. and a class of people who received text messages sent through the Disco Text Messaging Service is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the settlement class, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held June 26, approving the settlement (Pimental v. Google Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 4:11-cv-02585-SBA, 6/26/13).
The court held that an attorneys' fees award of $1.5 million--25 percent of the settlement--was also fair and reasonable.
The case involved a service that allowed individuals to enroll online to send text messages to more than one recipient at a time.
The service allegedly operated by permitting parties to input mobile telephone numbers and then send text messages in bulk. Recipients could also reply in bulk, potentially causing hundreds of unwanted messages that could impair the functionality of recipients' devices and cause recipients to incur messaging fees.
In 2011, the class plaintiffs filed a complaint against Google and Slide Inc. (10 PVLR 969, 7/4/11 asserting that they should be held liable under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. §227, which restricts the transmission of unsolicited telemarketing calls to consumers.
The court denied the services' motion to dismiss in 2012 (11 PVLR 467, 3/12/12).
The plaintiffs alleged that Google and Slide sent text messages en masse, using one common phone number, and that they harvested phone numbers, the court observed. Those allegations suggested that the defendants' equipment had the capacity to store numbers and dial them.
The court later denied the services' request for a stay pending the resolution of a TCPA petition to the Federal Communications Commission seeking clarification of the definitions of “consent” and “automatic telephone dialing system” (11 PVLR 778, 5/7/12). The action at the FCC did not explore the matters at issue in this lawsuit, the court observed.
The plaintiffs were represented by Sean Patrick Reis of Edelson LLC in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., and Christopher Lillard Dore, Jay Edelson, and Rafey Sarkis Balabanian of the firm's Chicago office; Leigh A. Parker of WeissLaw LLP in Los Angeles; and Scott D. Owens in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Google Inc. and Slide Inc. were represented by Bobbie J. Wilson and Joshua A. Reiten of Perkins Coie LLP, in San Francisco, and Debra Rae Bernard of the firm's Chicago office.
Full text of the court's final judgment order is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Pimental_et_al_v_Google_Inc_et_al_Docket_No_411cv02585_ND_Cal_May/1.
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