A federal judge has refused Zynga's request to dismiss a deceptive advertising lawsuit against it, ruling that the plaintiff has "sufficiently alleged Zynga's role in the fraudulent scheme."
A class action lawsuit against Zynga and other related companies was filed last year by Rebecca Swift, who found herself paying some surprise bills after submitting personal information to promotional offers tied to Zynga games. She first provided her mobile phone number to an advertiser in exchange for "YoCash," the virtual currency used in the Zynga game YoVille, which resulted in four separate charges to her bill of $9.99 "without her knowledge or consent." After that she gave her credit card number to a "risk-free Green Tea Purity trial," which ultimately resulted in unforeseen charges of $165.
Zynga had asked that the lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that, based on the Communications Decency Act of 1996, it cannot be held responsible for content generated by a third party. Judge Sandra Armstrong disagreed, however, ruling that the plaintiff had "sufficiently alleged" Zynga's role in the creation of the ads, which exposed it to the lawsuit through exceptions to the Act.
The judge likewise refused to dismiss the suit against Adknowledge, Zynga's advertising partner and co-defendant, which had similarly argued that it is an "online intermediary that merely 'presents' third-party advertisement from its Internet 'interface' to end users" and was thus immune to the action.
The ruling [available in PDF format] isn't a determination of Zynga's liability, just of the plaintiff's right to pursue the case against it. "The Court cannot determine at this juncture, based on the pleadings, whether Zynga is entitled to immunity under the CDA [Communications Decency Act]," it reads. "Rather, the FAC [First Amended Complaint] alleged facts which, if proven, could support the conclusion that Zynga is responsible, in whole or in part, for creating or developing the special offers at issue."
Zynga is also facing a separate class action suit that was filed in October over the leak of identifiable Facebook user ID numbers to outside advertisers, some of which occurred through its super-hit game FarmVille.
Source: Courthouse News Service