Zoom customer objects to settlement, $21 million in fees for class action lawyers
SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – A business that uses Zoom says a nearly final $85 million settlement is unnecessary and only benefits lawyers who stand to make more than $21 million.
Better World Properties of Houston filed an objection to the settlement on March 1, arguing to San Jose, Calif., federal judge Lucy Koh that it is unlikely any Zoom customers were actually harmed by privacy concerns that arose during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we are aware of anecdotal stories related to perceived security lapses and assumed mishandling of data by Zoom, our relevant and considerable experience suggests to us that these concerns are exaggerated and unlikely to have caused harm that Zoom should be financially responsible for,” BWP owner Michael Knight wrote.
“As a regular Zoom user, we learned early on that this was not a platform on which to conduct sensitive business, that user-controlled settings were the primary determinant of accessibility, and that common-sense measures were the best way to increase security.
“We too have plenty of stories about strange things that have happened through Zoom, but at no time did we ever experience any financial loss that could remotely be attributable to Zoom.”
Attorneys at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and Ahdoot & Wolfson on Jan. 28 filed for final approval of their $85 million settlement with the company that includes $21.25 million in lawyer fees. The settlement refunds customers at least $25 or up to 15% of the money they paid for subscriptions while the company allegedly had privacy concerns.
Despite Zoom’s argument that numerous class actions were filed “under a scattershot array of loosely related factual and legal theories, largely drawn from sensationalist news reports,” the company chose to settle.
Those lawsuits alleged Zoom was negligent in treatment of its users’ information and violated laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act.
They said Zoom shared the user’s personal information, including the type of device and software the user has as well as their network carrier and location, with third parties such as Facebook. The lawsuits also claimed Zoom misrepresented its encryption protocols and failed to prevent unwanted users from crashing meetings (called “Zoombombing”).
But the plaintiffs didn’t allege they were harmed by the sharing of any data, Zoom says, nor did they allege they ever relied upon any specific Zoom representations about encryption.
Those filing objections like Better World Properties, which provides apartment management services, will have to bowl over Judge Koh with their arguments. She has already granted preliminary approval of the settlement.
BWP paid for three Zoom Meetings Pro licenses but says any settlement should be limited to a refund paid by the few customers actively complaining. The current settlement will “ultimately serve only to enrich the plaintiff’s attorneys,” Knight wrote.
“The pittance of a refund customers like us stand to receive is entirely unwarranted and unjustified compared to the harm such settlements cause to American business,” he added.
“In the absence of criminal conduct or willful acts of deceit designed to increase profits while knowingly harming the public, we do not believe the settlement contemplated is justified.”