Heads Up Google AdWords Users…Google’s been hit with a national unfair business practices class action lawsuit alleging the god of all things Internet unlawfully denies payments to thousands of website owners and operators who place ads on their sites sold through Google AdWords.
The Google AdWords lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Google abruptly cancels website owners’ AdSense accounts often without explanation shortly before payments are due, and refuses to pay for the ads that ran prior to the cancelation.
According to the lawsuit, Google’s popular AdSense program translates annually to billions of dollars payable to website operators that host its ads via AdSense. Google’s AdSense advertising program induces website operators to host space for ads on their websites. Each time a visitor to the website interacts with the ad, the ad publisher who hosts the ad earns payment.
The complaint claims that the contracts and terms of service Google requires web publishers to sign are unconscionably one-sided, giving Google free reign to embark on what the lawsuit claims are actions devoid of good faith or fair dealing.
The complaint states, “Given Google’s contractual terms purportedly permitting it to withhold payment to publishers with disabled accounts, and in light of the experience of the plaintiff in seeing this policy actually effected, the total of earned funds that Google has refused to pay its AdSense publishers could be enormous.”
The lawsuit claims Google is in violation of contracts with users and in violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and violation of the California Unfair Competition Law.
The named plaintiff, Free Range Content, Inc., is a California corporation that owns and operates Repost.us. Free Range Content first noticed a spike in AdSense earnings in Feb. 2014. At the end of Feb. 2014, Google issued a report stating that the plaintiff’s estimated earnings for the covered period were over $40,000–a number that seemed far too high. Then on March 4, 2014, two days before a scheduled March 6, 2014 call with an AdSense representative was slated to occur, the plaintiff received word from the AdSense program that Google had disabled its account.
The lawsuit seeks damages for all U.S. Google AdSense publishers whose AdSense account was disabled or terminated, and whose last AdSense program payment was withheld permanently by Google.
Major RICO settlement this week…thought to be among the largest civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Law (RICO) class action settlements in recent history: We’re talking $297 million—a preliminary agreement between plaintiffs in a multidistrict unfair business practices class action against U.S. Foodservice, Inc. and its former parent company, Koninklijke Ahold, N.V. The settlement agreement is pending approval by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
This US Foodservice agreement was reached on behalf of a class of customers, primarily hospitals and restaurants, who purchased products from U.S. Foodservice under cost-plus arrangements between 1998 and 2005.
The class claimed that it was defrauded by U.S. Foodservice when it created six companies that it controlled to inflate the “cost component” of the products that were subject to the arrangement.
Citigroup Employee Shareholder Settlement…Bank employees got screwed too—and this week they got some justice, with the agreement of a $8.5 million settlement ending a securities class action lawsuit pending against Citigroup. The lawsuit, brought by Citigroup employee shareholders, alleged the company concealed its exposure to subprime mortgages prior to its stock price dropping.
The settlement class includes over 7,000 Citigroup employees who acquired securities between November 2006 and June 2009. Yikes! The damage seems endless. Probably is.
Under the terms of the agreement a $2.3 million settlement fund will be established, to include six payments of approximately $50,000 each to the six lead plaintiffs, as an incentive award for their service to the case. The Erisa lawsuit was brought in 2009 by former Citigroup employees who alleged the company prevented employees who had purchased the bank’s stock from obtaining information about subprime losses by means of a series of materially misleading statements and omissions concerning its subprime exposure, overall business outlook and financial results.
The lawsuit was originally filed in California, but was later consolidated into a multidistrict securities litigation against Citigroup through New York.
Ok—Folks—we’re done here—have a great weekend and we’ll see you at the bar!