Judge rules Apple iMessage lawsuit can't be tried as class-action case

A lawsuit alleging that Apple mishandles the text messages of people who switch from an iPhone to an Android smartphone can’t proceed as a class-action case.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled there isn’t enough evidence to determine whether everyone who could be part of a group suit would have been impacted by a possible “contractual breach or interference” related to Apple’s iMessage application.

Even If plaintiff Adrienne Moore’s allegations are correct, and iMessage contains flaws that interfere with text messages, there is not enough information for the court to determine whether the issues affect all users who would join in on the case, Koh said.

Last May, Moore sued Apple in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming the company disrupted the delivery of her text messages after she swapped her iPhone 4 for a Samsung Galaxy S5. Apple’s iMessage application, Moore claims, held on to text messages sent to her from people with Apple devices and didn’t pass them along to her new Android phone. This resulted in the loss of “countless” messages, the suit said.

Moore alleges Apple intentionally failed to tell people that iMessage won’t deliver all their text messages if they start using a rival smartphone. The suit claims Apple’s behavior penalizes people who swap out the company’s products for competing devices and prevents users from “obtain[ing] the full benefits of their wireless-service contracts.”

Koh noted that some people don’t receive text messages because of problems related to their wireless carrier’s network while others have contracts that exclude text messaging services. Determining whether a person didn’t receive a text message due to an iMessage flaw would require individual inquiries that looked at a person’s wireless contract, among other factors, she said.

A class-action lawsuit would open the case to anyone who had been impacted by the claim, potentially causing Apple to pay a hefty settlement or face expensive legal fees to defend the case. Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Last November, Apple came out with a tool aimed at help ease the process of switching from iOS to another mobile OS. However, the problem of vanishing texts continues to plague many former iPhone customers who switched to Android, according to the lawsuit.

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