Week Adjourned: 2.19.10

Top Class Actions Buzz off Google Buzz?

The Internet’s A-Buzz. Over Google Buzz—specifically a class action lawsuit filed by a Harvard Law student, Eva Hibnick, who is alleging that her contacts and contact information were made public by Google when it introduced Buzz, without her authorization.

Here, here I say. I also logged onto my email the morning Google Buzz was launched to find a list of my contacts displayed by the new social networking program. What? Who asked you to do that—was my first thought. It was completely inappropriate—not to mention unnecessary. 

As Ms. Hibnick so appropriately put it—she was “shocked to learn that my email contacts may have been shared with others without my knowledge or consent. I signed up for a private email service, not a social networking site.” 

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Google from continuing to operate Buzz without appropriate internet privacy safeguards and it seeks damages, including statutory damages of $100 per day per user.

Enjoin, by the way—in legal terms—means to direct, require, command, or admonish. Personally, I favor command. 

Top Settlements

Apropos for Black History Month… History was made on Thursday—when a settlement over a long-standing class action was reached between the US government and a group of several hundred African American farmers.

Short version—the lawsuit was filed in 1997 and alleged that the farmers were deliberately excluded from government programs and treated unfairly with respect to lending practices between 1987 and 1997. Why? Because they were Black, media reports state. (Can you even use that term anymore?) 

The amount is—are you sitting down—$1.25 billion—yes that’s with a b—$100 million of which was appropriated by Congress in a bill in 2008. The remaining $1.15 billion is now pending congressional approval as part of a request by President Obama in the 2010 budget. 

Got Rid of the Zits And Then Some…This is rather alarming—to say the least. A 38-year old was recently awarded $25 million as settlement of his lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche Inc, the makers of the acne medication Accutane.  

Who hasn’t wished for a magic bullet to get rid of those horrible zits? Especially if you’re plagued by serious acne into your adult years? Andrew McCarrell, who filed the suit, took Accutane when he was in his 20s to deal with his acne. Several years later he ended up having his colon removed, allegedly as a result of his exposure to Accutane. He claims that the pharmaceutical company failed to adequately warn of the drug’s side effects. You think? If you knew you were running the risk of losing your colon, would you take the medication?

Accutane was taken off the market in June 2009 by Hoffman La Roche, citing the cost of defending lawsuits and generic competition.

However, it’s apparently still on the market in Canada. Just this week Health Canada issued a warning regarding an association between Accutane and several severe skin reactions including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS).

Oh yes—Hoffman La Roche plans to appeal the settlement. 

That’s it for this week—see you at the Bar!

One thought on “Week Adjourned: 2.19.10”

  1. Google seemed to drop the ball on this one, though they do not have a great track record when it comes to privacy. The outrage over Buzz did get Google to alter the privacy settings.

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