Judge allows class-action lawsuit against Yahoo

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A federal judge has ruled that Sprint customers can pursue a class-action lawsuit against Yahoo over automated text messages that they believe violated the law.

The case concerns “welcome” messages that Yahoo sent to users after they received a first message through Yahoo’s Messenger service. The plaintiffs in the case allege that those messages violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which forbids robocalling and other uses of an autodialer.

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Judge Manish Shah in the Northern District of Illinois said Monday that Sprint customers who received the message between March 1, 2013 and March 31, 2013 and whose phone number was not in Yahoo’s user database are eligible to be a part of the lawsuit. It’s a defeat for Yahoo, which opposed the certification of the class.

Shah rejected many of Yahoo’s arguments, including its contention that a class-action suit could force it to accept damages disproportionate to its activity.

“Certifying a class action, however, does not necessarily mean defendant will be found liable. And complaints of disproportionality are better taken up with Congress,” Shah said in his order.

His ruling was not a complete victory for the plaintiffs in the case, however, since the judge declined to certify a different class of T-Mobile users who had also gotten the messages.

Shah said in his ruling that the proposed class could include over 500,000 users.