In a victory for Yahoo, a federal judge has ruled that company won't have to face a class-action lawsuit accusing it of sending unsolicited SMS messages to some Sprint customers.
The decision, issued last week by U.S. District Court Judge Manish Shah in Illinois, reverses an earlier ruling in the case.
The lawsuit against Yahoo, now owned by Verizon, stems from allegations that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using automated dialers to send text messages without first obtaining recipients' consent. The dispute centers on a Yahoo Messenger feature that converts instant messages into text messages.
Sprint user Rachel Johnson alleged in a 2014 complaint that she received at least two messages through that feature. One of those messages came from other users, while the second -- a "Welcome" message from Yahoo -- explained the first message. The lawsuit's claims center on the explanatory "Welcome" message.
Shah ruled two years ago that Johnson could proceed with a class-action on behalf of herself and other Sprint users who hadn't provided their phone numbers to Yahoo.
But last year, Yahoo asked Shah to revisit that ruling. The company argued that new information provided by Sprint suggested that many users who received the "Welcome" message actually had Yahoo accounts -- in which case they would have consented to receive the SMS message by agreeing to Yahoo's terms of service. Yahoo contended that class-action status wasn't appropriate, because determining whether users consented to receive text messages would require a case-by-case analysis.
Shah agreed with the company. "Defendant does not need to prove consent to decertify the class," the wrote. "It just needs to show that proving consent requires individualized analysis."
Yahoo isn't the only tech company facing suit for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Facebook currently is facing several lawsuits for allegedly sending unwanted robotexts to consumers.