On June 6, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a class action by advertisers against Internet search giant Google could go forward, despite Google’s attempts to have the class action thrown out. The lawsuit centers around claims by advertisers that Google was not transparent regarding the placement of purchased ads on the site.
The class action was filed against Google in 2008, relating to ads that were placed with Google between 2004 and 2008. Advertisers are alleging that they were misled when the purchased ads through Google’s AdWords service. Specifically, the class members contend that they did not expect that purchased ads would be placed on error pages and inactive domain sites.
The AdWords service was primarily intended to place purchased ads alongside relevant or related Google Internet search results. According to the plaintiffs, Google did not disclose that the ads would also appear in places that advertisers considered undesirable, such as error pages or undeveloped websites that are know as parked domains.
Concealing that information, the lawsuit contends, was misleading and a violation of California fair advertising laws. The advertisers are now seeking a refund of their payments.
A federal district court ruled in 2012 that the case could not move forward as a class action, because each advertiser would receive different damages. Under a 2011 Supreme Court decision, class actions can proceed only if the claims can be resolved on a class-wide basis. Google had argued that the damages had to be calculated on an individual basis for each of the advertisers in question, meaning the case could not proceed as a class action.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, overturned that decision last September, ruling that the case could go forward as a class action. The court rejected Google’s damages arguments, holding that damages could be calculated for all class members via a formula.
Google appealed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, who declined to hear the appeal. By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court functionally upheld the Ninth Circuit’s decision and allowed the case to move forward as a class action lawsuit. The decision not to hear the appeal is being seen as a major win for the advertisers.
Consult an Experienced Class Action Attorney
Class actions are not like other lawsuits, and can often seem confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the process. There are strict rules that govern whether a case can be brought as a class action, and who can be included as a class member. Class action attorneys specialize in these kinds of cases, and are here to demystify the process.
At McCuneWright, LLP, we have a proven track record of bringing class actions in all types of cases, including consumer fraud, personal injury, product liability, and wrongful termination. With over twenty-five years experience handling class actions, our dedicated attorneys can answer any questions you may have about how class actions work. If you or a loved is considering filing a class action, contact us today for a free consultation to determine the best approach to getting the compensation you deserve.