California court approves $300,000 settlement in class-action lawsuit against Yahoo

By Chandra Lye | Nov 21, 2018

SAN JOSE — A U.S. District Court in California has made a final order in a class-action lawsuit against Yahoo! Inc. over automatically renewing subscriptions.

The court, for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, approved the settlement, which stems from Yahoo’s management of website Rivals.com. The site offered information on college sports and recruiting to subscribers. Those who paid for the service chose to pay $99.95 for a year or $9.95 on a monthly plan.

The plaintiff, Andrew Wahl, claimed that Yahoo violated California’s Automatic Renewal Law “by failing to give statutorily required notice that subscriptions to Rivals.com would renew automatically,” according to the court order.

As part of the settlement, class members will get either five months free, for annual subscribers, or three months free for monthly subscribers.

“In lieu of the free subscription services, class members may elect to receive either $20 in cash (annual subscribers) or $10 in cash (monthly subscribers),” the court order stated.

“Yahoo also has agreed to pay: attorneys’ fees and expenses awarded by the Court, not to exceed a total of $300,000; an incentive award of $5,000 to Plaintiff Yuan Guo if approved by the Court; and the Settlement Administrator’s reasonable fees and expenses,” Judge Beth Labson Freeman wrote.

The court order also noted that there was “little formal discovery” done in the case but “because Plaintiff’s UCL claim is based primarily on the content of the Rivals.com website and the undisputed subscription renewals of class members, it appears that the parties had sufficient information to evaluate the case’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“Plaintiff achieved his objectives in obtaining both a tangible recovery for each class member but also modification of the subscription page for Rivals.com to present the automatic renewal terms in a clear and conspicuous manner,” Judge Freeman wrote.

She added that the fees and expenses requested by the plaintiff were “reasonable” under California law.

The court also granted the plaintiff an incentive award of $5,000, which they claim they were at the discretion to do.

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