Apple’s Disappearing iMessage Text Lawsuits Refuse to Disappear

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Apple may have fixed its disappearing iMessage text problem, but its legal troubles over the issue have yet to be resolved. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh recently consolidated two separate lawsuits against the California-based company that are both seeking damages and Class Action certification, reports TechCrunch. At the heart of both lawsuits is the recently resolved disappearing text problem with Apple’s proprietary iMessage service. Soon after Apple first introduced iMessage in iOS 5 in 2011, it emerged that users who switched from an iPhone to a non-Apple device were unable to receive SMS or MMS messages sent from other iPhones, due to their phone number still being linked to the defunct iMessage account.

Despite years of knowing about the issue, Apple only recently released a new Web-based tool that allows former iPhone owners to deregister their numbers from the iMessage service. However, Apple’s iMessage fix came too late for some former iPhone owners. In May of this year, Adam Backhaut, Joy Backhaut, and Kenneth Morris filed a lawsuit against Apple that accused the company of violating the Stored Communications Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Around the same time, Adrienne Moore filed a similar lawsuit that accused Apple of “tortious interference with contract,” as well as violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law.

According to TechCrunch, Judge Koh denied many of Adrienne Moore’s claims, but allowed her claim regarding Apple’s interference with her new wireless service contract to proceed. In the lawsuit, Moore argued that Apple knowingly interfered with her new service contract with Verizon by preventing her from receiving text messages.

Judge Koh also allowed the Backhaut case to proceed, although she didn’t specify which claims could be pursued. As noted by TechCrunch, all three parties involved in these cases were opposed to the lawsuit consolidation mandated by the judge. The plaintiffs were presumably opposed to the lawsuit consolidation because their claims differ in significant ways, while Apple may have simply preferred to handle each claim separately. Despite the three parties’ objections, Judge Koh consolidated the lawsuit and requested that the plaintiffs file an amended complaint with the court by early December.

When Apple issued the iMessage bug fix last week, it appeared that the lawsuits might also soon be resolved. As reported by Top Class Actions, both Moore and Apple agreed to meet in private mediation in late October. However, the most recent information suggests that Apple will continue to fight these lawsuits in California federal court. According to TechCrunch, the amended complaint is due in December 2014, while the Class Action certification issue won’t be settled until mid-2015. In other words, this lawsuit could be around almost as long as the disappearing iMessage text problem was.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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