Chicago class action master takes on Facebook

Legal News Line Nov. 6, 2007, 7:35am

Jay Edelson

CHICAGO -- A Chicago attorney leading the suit against Facebook over its text-messaging service is well-practiced in class actions against corporate targets, having secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements to date against Web services and other "new technology" providers. Jay Edelson, of Kamber Edelson LLC, is representing Lindsey Abrams and others in a fraud suit against Facebook, Inc. Edelson is a 1996 graduate of the University of Michigan law school and has served as lead counsel in over 40 consumer class actions. Among Edelson's more recent cases are the Menu Foods class action (related to the pet food contamination scare of early 2007), suits against Merck for its marketing of Vioxx, and class actions related to second-hand smoke (including a suit filed on behalf of employees of an Indiana casino). Edelson has also served as co-lead counsel in a variety of suits against health club chains related to allegedly deceptive billing practices. Edelson recently recovered over $40 million from Bally Total Fitness and its debt collection partners, and $14 million from Capital Fitness, Inc. In those cases the consumers typically received cash refunds and a few free months of membership after the firm received its fee. A variety of Web services have also lost class actions filed by Edelson's firm under various consumer protection statutes. Lycos,,, Yahoo! and Time Warner have paid millions in settlement dollars to Edelson's firm and the consumers it has represented in various suits against the companies. Edelson has also worked on a number of "new technology" class actions and was dubbed the "Spam Slammer" by the Chicago Sun-Times after he secured a settlement for unsolicited text messaging under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in February 2007. The class action against Facebook, a popular social networking site, is also predicated on unsolicited text messaging, alleging that "through intentional design or gross negligence" the company has allowed text messages to be sent to unsuspecting individuals with cell phone numbers that were previously owned by Facebook members. According to the suit, Abrams and others have received "obscure and graphic messages" which can at times be "frightening and dangerous." The messages sampled in the suit contained brief greetings couched in slang terms, presumably from college-aged Facebook members. The suit seeks at least $5 million from Facebook on behalf of Abrams and others who have mistakenly received text messages from Facebook users. The Facebook suit notes that since text message recipients such as Abrams are typically charged $.10 per message by their carriers, and Facebook's alleged misconduct "invades the privacy rights of potentially hundreds of thousands of people," widespread injunctive and compensatory relief is necessary. Facebook has not answered the complaint or filed an appearance yet. The suit is scheduled for an initial case management conference on Feb. 12, 2008, at the U.S. District Court for California's Northern District in San Jose before Magistrate Judge Patricia V. Trumbull. Other attorneys joining Edelson as lead counsel include Myles P. McGuire and Ethan Mark Preston of Kamber Edelson's Chicago office and Alan Himmelfarb of the firm's Vernon, Calif. office. Kamber Edelson was formed recently as a merger between two prominent plaintiffs' class action firms – Kamber & Associates of New York and Blim & Edelson of Chicago. Kamber Edelson recently added a California office as well. The firm focuses on "new technology" class actions, securities class actions, mass torts, consumer class actions, insurance class actions, and antitrust cases, among other areas. Prior to merging with Kamber, Blim & Edelson launched a site – – through which consumers can contact the attorneys regarding potential class claims against a wide variety of corporations. Among the potential targets are prescription-drug manufacturers (particularly the makers of Vioxx, Avandia, Bextra, and Fosamax), Internet dating services, health clubs, and telecommunications companies. The site is currently soliciting potential class members that have purchased "Halo 3", a popular new Xbox video game that allegedly renders at a lower pixel resolution than advertised.

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