a defeat for Yahoo, a federal judge has refused to dismiss a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the company of sending unwanted SMS texts to users.
The lawsuit, brought by San Diego
resident Rafael David Sherman, centers on allegations that Yahoo violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending an SMS message to Sherman.
That SMS allegedly informed
Sherman that he had received an instant message from a Yahoo user.
Sherman said that he never gave Yahoo his cell phone number, or consented to receive SMS messages from the company. He
alleged that sending the message violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from using automated systems to send texts to people without their explicit permission.
Yahoo argued that it was entitled to summary judgment on that ground that companies are allowed to send people a single “confirmatory” SMS message. “This single message was
sent for the express purpose of notifying the recipient that a Yahoo! user sent him text message using Yahoo!'s Instant Messenger service.
The sole purpose of the confirmatory message is
to provide a link to a help page that includes instructions on how to opt out of receiving Yahoo! Messenger messages via text in the future,” the company argued in a motion for summary
U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the Southern District of California rejected Yahoo's position, ruling that Sherman “did not provide Yahoo prior express
consent or take any action which would have justified a response or confirmation by Yahoo.”
The search giant also contended that it didn't send the SMS via an automated dialer system;
Curiel ruled against Yahoo on that point as well. The decision means that Sherman will be allowed to proceed with his lawsuit against the company.
Yahoo is facing a separate potential
class-action for allegedly sending SMS messages to wrong phone numbers. That lawsuit, brought by Bill Dominguez, is pending in front of U.S. District Court Judge Michael Baylson in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.