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Nov 4, 2014

Court Approves Class Notice via E-mail

On the heels of a New York state court approving service in a child support case via Facebook, a federal court in New York has approved the parties' agreement that potential plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Gawker Media over intern pay may be served notice of the lawsuit via e-mail. Mark v. Gawker Media LLC, Civil No. 13-4347 (order Nov. 3, 2014).

The court also approved the parties' agreement to provide notice by establishing two public websites.

As I noted previously, several other U.S. courts have allowed service by e-mail, and Florida and Texas have specific rules on the issue.

In the Gawker case, the court agreed that "[t]his form of dissemination alleviates much of the concern that a 'highly mobile' population will not receive notice, particularly under the circumstances of this case, where the potential plaintiffs are skilled with electronic media use by the very nature of their former positions." Slip op. at 2.

The court also granted the plaintiffs' request to provide notice to potential class members via social media pages named "Gawker Intern Lawsuit" and "Gawker Class Action." Such notice is likely to be effective, the court said, finding it "unrealistic that Defendant's former interns do not maintain social media accounts; the vast majority likely have at least one such account, if not more." Slip op. at 6.

But the court denied the plaintiffs' request to order notice of the lawsuit on Gawker Media's own websites and blogs, holding that "[p]osting a link on their website extracts a cost from Defendants, and has the potential to appear punitive, while the incremental chance that potential plaintiffs who do not otherwise receive notice would see it and become aware of their rights is small." Id. 

But the fact that both parties in the Gawker case agreed to service via e-mail show how such notice is becoming more common, and accepted.

h/t Media Law Resource Center

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