Last week in the Northern District of California, plaintiffs John Coffee, Mei-Ling Montanez, and minor S.M., filed an opposition to Google’s motion to consider whether various suits against it concerning gambling apps should be related, asserting that the relation factors have not been met.
In Google’s motion, Google argued that the lawsuits that alleged that apps sold in the Google Play store constitute illegal gambling should be related because the parties and circumstances in each case are similar, thus relating these cases would purportedly be judicially efficient.
In the opposition, the plaintiffs claim that the instant “loot box” case (Coffee et al. v. Google) should not be consolidated with the “factually distinct ‘casino’ cases,” specifically, Sparks v. Google LLC, et al.; Long v. Google LLC, et al.; Lords v. Google LLC, et al.; Bruschi v. Google LLC, et al.; and Andrews v. Google LLC.
The Coffee plaintiffs noted that “relation is only appropriate if ‘(1) The actions concern substantially the same parties, property, transaction or event; and (2) It appears likely that there will be an unduly burdensome duplication of labor and expense or conflicting results if the cases are conducted before different Judges.’” The plaintiffs in the Coffee action asserted that “(a)t least as to Coffee, which is the ‘loot box’ case, none of these factors are met”; however, the plaintiffs did not take a position on if the other “casino” cases should be related to each other.
The Coffee plaintiffs stated that their case “has nothing in common with the other cases.” In particular, the plaintiffs allege that their suit “concerns Google’s partnership with videogame developers to market and sell loot boxes to minors and others within certain videogames.” However, “(n)one of the other cases involve loot boxes. And to the Coffee Plaintiffs’ knowledge, loot boxes are not found in any of the ‘social casino’ games that are the subject of the other cases.”
The plaintiffs contended that the cases “only involve a single overlapping party – Google. All the other parties are different” and the putative classes are different at least as they relate to Coffee. Moreover, the plaintiffs add that “there is no ‘property, transaction, or event’ in common between Coffee and the casino cases – and Google fails to identify any. Instead, Google asserts it intends to raise a legal issue – immunity under 47 U.S.C. § 230, et seq. – in each case.” However, the Coffee plaintiffs argue that Section 230 is “not a party, property, transaction, or event” and applying it to multiple cases “does not make those cases related.” The plaintiffs also argued that the common dispositive issue of unjust enrichment does not mean the cases should be related. According to the plaintiffs, using Google’s logic surrounding its payment system “would mean that every lawsuit concerning apps in its Google Play Store should be deemed related regardless of the parties or subject matter.”
Finally, the plaintiffs also recounted that the same court rejected a game developer’s attempt to relate various loot box cases against both Google and Apple. According to the plaintiffs, “(i)f relation was not appropriate there, it certainly is not appropriate here, where the actions are factually distinct, involve different parties, and do not involve the same property, transaction, or event.”