Yahoo Email User Wants Court To Reinstate Privacy Lawsuit


A Yahoo user is asking a federal appellate court to reinstate his lawsuit, alleging that the company violated the privacy of email users by including their names in the headers of outgoing messages.

New York resident Albert Rudgayzer argues in new court papers that he should have been allowed to proceed with a class-action alleging that Yahoo violated its terms of service by revealing users' full names. Rudgayzer says in his court papers, filed last week, that Yahoo is violating an explicit promise that it doesn't share users' personal information -- including their names.

Rudgayzer filed suit against Yahoo last March, alleging that the company "intentionally concealed" that it discloses the names of users who send emails. "Yahoo has intentionally deprived Yahoo Email Users of their legal rights not to have their first and last names disclosed when they send Yahoo Emails," he argued in his complaint, which was filed in the Northern District of California. Rudgayzer sought to represent a class of Yahoo email users.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, Calif. dismissed Rudgayzer's claims last year on the grounds that he couldn't move forward with a class-action because he was appearing "pro se" -- meaning he wasn't represented by a lawyer. Davila ruled that Rudgayzer couldn't represent himself and also represent a potential class of other plaintiffs at the same time. (According to Yahoo's court papers, Rudgayzer is a lawyer in New York, but isn't licensed in California.)

Davila also accepted Yahoo's argument that Rudgayzer couldn't proceed with an individual case on the grounds that he didn't sustain economic damages. "Plaintiff has failed to allege a specific instance where he suffered any actual damage or cognizable harm as a result of the disclosure -- likely because he cannot," Yahoo wrote in its motion seeking dismissal.

Rudgayzer is now arguing to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that Davila's decision was premature. Rudgayzer says he could have sought a lawyer to act as counsel for the entire class of Yahoo email users at a later date. He also says that he (and other Yahoo email users) are entitled to recover a nominal amount of damages for the alleged privacy breach.

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