You Want to Know Why the Legal System is Broken?

I got a notice in my email that I was potentially a member of a class action against LinkedIn.  What is the case?

The Action challenges LinkedIn's use of a service called Add Connections to grow its member base. Add Connections allows LinkedIn members to import contacts from their external email accounts and email connection invitations to one or more of those contacts inviting them to connect on LinkedIn. If a connection invitation is not accepted within a certain period of time, up to two "reminder emails" are sent reminding the recipient that the connection invitation is pending. The Court found that members consented to importing their contacts and sending the connection invitation, but did not find that members consented to LinkedIn sending the two reminder emails [plaintiffs seem to have other grievances but this is the only one they say the court validated].

You have got to be kidding me.  How much time and money has been spent on this stupidity?

So I wanted to tell them to go screw themselves, and that this was not done in my name and I want nothing to do with it.  Of course there are simple web forms for joining the class and asking for payment, but to be excluded one has to follow a series of detailed instructions and send a snail mail.  Apparently if I do nothing I am part of this fraud whether I want to be or not.  I particularly like the last line of the opt-out instructions (FAQ #9)

This request must include the case number of the Action (Case No. 5:13-CV-04303-LHK), your name, address, email address, phone number and signature, and a statement that you wish to be excluded from the Settlement Class.  If the exclusion request does not include all of this information, or if it is sent to an address other than the above, or if it is not postmarked within the time specified, it will be invalid, and you will remain a member of the Settlement Class and be bound as a Class Member by the Settlement Agreement, if approved.  “Mass” or “class” opt-outs purporting to be made on behalf of multiple persons or classes of persons shall not be allowed.

So mass torts purporting to be made on behalf of a class of persons without even consulting them are A-OK, but mass opt-outs from the class are not allowed.

Postscript:  At first I thought the opt-out headache was the plaintiff's attorney trying to protect their fees, but their fees seem set.  In retrospect, my guess is the difficult opt-out comes from the defense, because opting out leaves one eligible to sue again and having settled this one, I am sure LinkedIn does not want a second class trying to take a second bite of the apple.

Followup #2:  Engadget's reaction to the case:  Oh look, free money!

And the sum is likely to be small, though LinkedIn promised to increase the total amount by $750,000 if individual payouts are less than $10. Still, money is money, so if you're willing to swear that the company spammed folks on your behalf, you can apply for compensation here.

I do not know this author's politics, but I can say from personal experience that the majority of the most breathtakingly amoral statements about money I have heard in real life (ie excluding cartoon lines written by Hollywood for business people) have come from Progressives.

  • Brad Warbiany

    You should start a class action lawsuit against the lawyers for making in unduly burdensome to be removed from their class action lawsuit.

  • raiderphan

    Jee-zuss! What could possibly be damages here?
    As a frequent recipient of these annoying invitations and reminders I can see where someone like me might feel harmed... but that doesn't sound like the case here. And to think there were other issues raised that we of even less validity.

  • joshv

    I understand the need for some class-action lawsuits, and that the interests of all parties involved are probably better served by collective settlement, rather than individual litigation, but there needs to be a higher bar of demonstrated monetary damages. Those court documents claim payments of up to $1,500 - on what logic is that number based?

  • obloodyhell

    Simple solution: "Loser pays". Make it more worth it to fight this kind of BS suit, and worth less to implement it.

    It'd keep two-bit shysters** like John Edwards from being as successful.

    ** Yes, the SOB is rich, but he's still two-bit. His wealth does not equal his value to society.

  • obloodyhell

    I like that idea.

  • PA32R

    These class action lawsuits are nothing but an extortion scheme for the class action bar. I've received "settlements" amounting to a coupon for 10% off IF (and ONLY IF) I purchase a replacement product from the defendant. Meanwhile, the defendant gets the equivalent of having a 10% off sale and the class action extortionist law firm receives 30% of the alleged value, assuming that 100% of the "coupons" are cashed in. This amounts to, in many cases, tens of millions of dollars. The mafia would have a wet dream over such a lucrative scam scheme. As to the "loser pays," I'm all for it in a big way, but in the class action situations described above and in this post, it should be "losing law firm pays." You're not going to collect monetary payments from each of the allegedly "damaged" Linked In customers who fail to opt out.

    In fact, since I'm on a rant, the entire civil justice system is an absolute farce. In a perfect world, the judge in this case would say "roll up your briefs, lower your briefs, and shove the entire thing up your ass." There's absolutely no excuse for the court to even entertain such a ludicrous action. The entire system is an incestuous cesspool.

    And, you'll note, I haven't even addressed the insane opt out requirements. That would take me on a whole other rant and I don't want my head to explode.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    That's a symptom, not a cause of our broken legal system.

  • mesocyclone

    I also got that letter, and threw it away. This sort of thing is really appalling.

  • DirtyJobsGuy

    This seems to be the direct result of a decades long effort to degrade the seriousness of the tort process. These should have been tossed by the Court for lack of actual damage. I would think that a new Federal law is required codifying the constitutional level of damage adjusted by the current degraded value of the dollar. The plaintiffs would have to prove at the time of filing that actual individuals have suffered actual losses

  • DaveK

    While I agree that this is a pretty lame lawsuit, I don't really have much sympathy for LinkedIn... At least in the past, if you agreed to join them, they basically hijacked your mail list and sent out notices to everyone there... again and again. For that reason alone, I have purposefully ignored each and every LinkedIn request that has appeared in my inbox. They are extremely annoying, and while I hope that they prevail in the lawsuit, I also hope that they get to suffer a bit in the process.