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MONTH-IN-BRIEF (Jun 2021)

Internet Law

California Federal Court Certifies Damages Class in Apple iCloud Suit

By Mwangala Simataa, Georgetown University Law Center

Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California recently granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify a damages class, but denied certification of an injunctive-relief class in a case against Apple for breach of contract. Williams v. Apple Inc., No. 5:19-cv-04700-LHK (N.D. Cal. May 28, 2021). Andrea Williams and James Stewart, the named plaintiffs, sought class certification on behalf of iCloud subscribers who used an iCloud subscription from September 16, 2015 through October 2018. They alleged that Apple breached its iCloud contract when it stored their data on third party servers run by companies like Microsoft and Amazon. 

Judge Koh certified the damages class but limited the class period to include only those users who signed up for iCloud between September 16, 2015 and January 31, 2016, because the plaintiffs presented common proof of damages for that period. However, the court denied certification for the period February 1, 2016 to October 31, 2018, because Apple stored data of some class members on its own servers and could not identify which of its users’ data it had stored on third-party servers. Furthermore, the court ruled that Williams was an inadequate class representative because she was the sister-in-law of class counsel, which left Stewart as the sole class representative.

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