On Wednesday, Meta Platforms Inc. submitted a statement of recent decision, bringing to the court’s attention an order denying a motion for class certification in Singh v. Google LLC, a deceptive advertising case over the company’s AdWords. Meta’s two-page submission comes in connection with its opposition to class certification in a Northern District of California class action alleging that the company padded estimates of how many people advertisers could reach by advertising on either its Facebook or Instagram platforms.
Previously, Judge James Donato ruled on Meta’s motion to dismiss, permitting the plaintiffs’ California Unfair Competition Law (UCL), common law fraudulent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment claims to proceed in February 2021.
The 25-page decision Meta attaches as an exhibit to its submission was issued on Monday by fellow Northern District of California Judge Beth Labson Freeman. The court declined to certify the proposed class, consisting of persons and entities who advertised and paid for clicks through AdWords since June 2012.
The opinion explained that through AdWords, Google sells pay-per-click advertisements that are displayed on the Google Display Network, consisting of Google.com, other Google subsidiaries, and third-party sites enrolled in Google’s separate AdSense program. The plaintiff, a small business owner and AdWords user, claimed that Google deceived advertisers by making false and misleading statements concerning how the company identifies and filters invalid and fake ad clicks and how it computes invalid click totals.
As evidence, the plaintiff focused on statements made on two different pages of Google’s website. Had the business owner known the truth about the company’s practices, he would not have agreed to pay so much for AdWords, the complaint said.
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of dismissal and the case proceeded to class certification.
In her order, Judge Freeman found that though the plaintiff has standing to pursue the case, he is an atypical class representative. The court’s reason was two-fold. First, the plaintiff opted out of the arbitration agreement, making him unlike the vast majority of class members who, in all probability, did not opt out. Second, the court held that the plaintiff “does not have a typical injury under any of his theories.”
Among the arguments considered, the court agreed with Google that there were likely class members who were never exposed to the alleged misstatements, therefore could not have relied on them, and in turn, suffered no injury.
Predicated on the same reasons underlying its typicality finding, the court found that the plaintiff was neither an adequate representative nor that he satisfied the 23(b) requirements of predominance and superiority.