Google scored a victory in a court ruling Tuesday against Gmail users attempting to sue the company. US District Judge Lucy Koh denied the plaintiffs class-action status for their case, writing that the issue of consent to Gmail’s practices is too important to the case and too different between many of the parties seeking class-action status together.
The ruling that a class action won’t be allowed will almost surely mean a quick end to this case.
While the plaintiffs are still free to sue on an individual basis, it won’t be practical to proceed with expensive litigation when each individual user’s damages claim would be so small.
The lawsuit against Gmail argues that Google was scanning and creating user profiles for users who did not use Gmail and had not consented to Google’s practice of using e-mail content to create and serve ads.
The suit covers a number of groups, including users who pay to use Google’s Apps for Education and people who send e-mails to Gmail users from non-Gmail accounts. Judge Koh denied Google’s motion to dismiss the case back in September, and she didn’t buy Google’s argument that anyone who, for instance, sends an e-mail to a Gmail user implicitly consents to Google’s practice of using their e-mail content to feed ads.