Northern California Record

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Federal judge denies Apple's motion to dismiss suit over TV show purchases through iTunes


By Charmaine Little | Mar 29, 2019

OAKLAND – Apple’s motion to get a class action against it regarding purchases of TV shows dismissed was denied in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on March 13.

The tech company was accused of violating California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, common law fraud and quasi-contract/restitution. Apple sought to dismiss all of those claims, which was denied by U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton.

Lead plaintiff Gabriela Zaragoza alleges Apple marketed and sold TV shows by the season or by the episode via iTunes, Apple TV, Apple TV 4 and 4k. The plaintiffs allege when they tried to buy a new season or a season pass, Apple allegedly didn’t offer as many episodes as it advertised for a season because it included promotional videos in the episode count.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton

Because of this, the plaintiffs allege they did not get as many episodes that they believed they would receive with the purchase. The plaintiffs said had they known, they would not have purchased entire seasons. 

The court first decided if the alleged conduct would actually trick a reasonable customer. 

“The Apple TV appears to make no representation about how many future episodes there will be, but rather reports only the total number of video clips associated with a show’s season at the time the consumer views that season’s home page,” Hamilton wrote. "As a result, the Apple TV might hypothetically represent there are '10 episodes' in a season, and the list of videos would display five narrative episodes and five promotional videos that are already available."

As for whether Apple violated the CLRA, Hamilton said there are too many issues to determine if dismissal is appropriate at this point in the case.

Concerning fraud allegations, Hamilton held that despite Apple’s arguments, the plaintiffs explained a "plausible theory" and denied the motion to dismiss.

The court also denied the motion to dismiss the quasi-contract/restitution claim, stating that a claim for relief via a “'quasi-contract’ theory based on false and misleading labeling ‘is sufficient to state a quasi-contract cause of action’ that can be pled'” despite being a duplicate of another claim, the ruling states.

Apple also argued the plaintiffs do not have standing to assert claims under the CLRA, UCL and FAL, but Hamilton said they have done enough to allege injury stating they paid for but did not receive certain episodes.

Hamilton also Apple’s request for judicial notice of an exhibit and said “the court cannot take judicial notice of Apple’s contention that the parties entered into this agreement.”

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division

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