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Pulaski and Middleman, LLC v. Google, Inc.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently approved class certification for advertisers of Google Adwords, reversing U.S. District Judge Edward Davila’s decision in January 2012. Those who purchased Adwords between 2004 and 2008 can now sue as a group to recover damages over what they claim are violations of California’s Unfair Competition and False Advertising Laws. Google allegedly charged Pulaski for ads that appeared on error pages and so-called parked domain pages of undeveloped websites.

In his 2012 ruling, Judge Davila found that “plaintiffs lacked a workable method for calculating damages, given differing costs for each advertiser, each ad, and each click, overlaid with an auction process.” However, The Ninth Circuit reversed and said Google can’t avoid class action just because the damages are variable. The UCL and FAL are worded broadly. California “requires only that some reasonable basis of computation of damages be used, and the damages may be computed even if the result reached is an approximation.” “[T]he fact that the amount of damage may not be susceptible of exact proof or may be uncertain, contingent, or difficult of ascertainment does not bar recovery.”

This is a meaningful victory for consumers, as companies continue to innovate new ways to avoid accountability for their wrongdoings.

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