California judge rules Facebook can face consumer class lawsuit

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California judge rules Facebook can face consumer class lawsuit

People pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. REUTERS Dado Ruvic File Photo

A California federal judge handed a partial win to consumers suing Facebook in a ruling that denied the company's bid to dismiss claims that it exploited user data to thwart industry competitors.

Koh ruled that advertisers can sue Facebook over an agreement the company reached with Google Inc in 2018 to not enter each other's market, Koh said.

Koh's decision, which addressed claims from consumers and advertisers in a dozen consolidated cases filed against Facebook in 2020 and last year, dismissed some claims, including an allegation that Facebook maintained monopoly power through a copy, acquire, kill strategy. Koh gave the plaintiffs the chance to file an amended complaint within 45 days.

The court's opinion came just days after a Washington, D.C. federal judge declined Facebook's request to dismiss an antitrust case that the Federal Trade Commission filed last year. In another case, dozens of U.S. states asked a U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C. to reinstate an antitrust lawsuit against the company.

A Facebook representative said that Koh's ruling recognizes many of the defects in the complaints filed against Meta. Sonal Mehta of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a lawyer for Facebook, did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.

Facebook's lawyers said in its bid for dismissal, the plaintiffs have a series of unfounded and untimely allegations that fail to plausibly allege an antitrust case. Stephen Swedlow, a lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Sullivan for the consumer plaintiffs, did not respond to a message seeking comment on Tuesday. Yavar Bathaee of Bathaee Dunne, an attorney for the advertisers, didn't want to say anything.

The consumers want the court to ban Facebook from any further deceptive behavior, because they want Facebook to hire third-party auditors to evaluate privacy practices and market conduct.

In December, Koh, who was appointed by the trial court, was confirmed by San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case is Klein vs. Facebook Inc., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. Consumer class: Stephen Swedlow of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Sullivan, and Shana Scarlett of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

For advertiser class : Brian Dunne and Yavar Bathaee of Bathaee Dunne and Kristen Anderson of Scott Scott Scott

For Facebook : Sonal Mehta, David Gringer and Ari Holtzblatt of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

States ask the U.S. court to reinstate Facebook antitrust lawsuit.