Denial of Class Action for “Vista Capable” Suit Could Be a Bad Thing–For Microsoft

By  |  Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 9:57 am

lawsuit-microsoft-vista-capable-stickersI’ll preface this with the fact that I am not a legal expert by any means, however at face value the denial of class action status in the ongoing lawsuit over Microsoft’s “Vista Capable” program may actually prove to be more problematic for Redmond in the long run.

The gist of the suit, led by consumer Dianne Kelley, accused Microsoft of labeling computers that could only run the most basic version of Vista — which does not include any of the user interface enhancements — as capable of running the OS fully, thus defrauding consumers.

Seattle US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman has ruled that the individual cases could proceed, however she would not grant class action status because universal harm to all consumers who bought “Vista Capable”-marked PCs could not be proven.

Microsoft had attempted to have the case dismissed, however Pechman denied that motion.

So, how is this problematic to Microsoft? If Kelley and company end up prevailing, it could set a precedent for other jilted consumers to sue, entangling Redmond further in the legal morass.

In class action suits, typically the only beneficiaries of significant settlements are the chief plaintiffs. The members of the class-action, who technically could be considered plaintiffs in their own right, usually get a significantly smaller settlement in exchange for the stripping of their rights to sue.

Here, Microsoft is getting no protection at all. Thus, it keeps the door open for additional folks to press their luck in the courts: here’s where a negative judgment may have been the best solution.

So while some may be saying the thunder may have been taken out of this case, I think it may have made Microsoft’s problems regarding this not-too-well-thought-out program potentially worse.

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  1. Jeff Says: