RIM faces class action suits in U.S., Canada over BlackBerry outage

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is facing a class-action suit on its own doorstep over outages last month, and further possible suits around the world.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Research in Motion, the BlackBerry maker, is facing a class-action lawsuit on its doorstep in Canada, and others in the United States and around the world, after an outage which spread globally over four days last month brought the service offline.

A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Quebec, brought on behalf of Canadian users of the BlackBerry service, arguing that Research in Motion "failed to compensate" customers with refunds for loss of service, and has yet to "take full responsibility for these damages".

According to a statement from the law firm that filed the suit, the proposed class-action suit against the smartphone maker is: "on behalf of individuals who have BlackBerry smartphones and who pay for a monthly data plan but were unable to access their email, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and/or Internet for the period of October 11 to 14, 2011".

Research in Motion did not comment beyond: "RIM will formally respond to the matter in due course", noting that it had yet to receive the complaint.

A similar case has also been filed in the U.S. on behalf of BlackBerry users in California, after an estimated 2.4 million Californians were left without service for two days.

The U.S. lawsuit was filed in Santa Ana, California in federal court, brought on behalf of all BlackBerry owners with a service agreement with the Canadian giant, at the time of the messaging interruptions.

The U.S. suit was brought by a Californian resident, claiming that though there was no existing contract between Research in Motion and himself, the "implied contract" presented itself by the customer paying the company fees through his wireless network provider, Sprint.

The U.S. suit estimates that the Canadian smartphone giant earns at least $3.4 million a day in service revenue, collected from customers through wireless network carriers.

If the suit is approved, it would likely serve as yet another headache for the company, which is still struggling after poor financial outlooks, product launch sales failures in notably the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, and difficult investor relations.

The outage affected upwards of 50 percent of the 70 million users worldwide, spreading from Europe throughout the Middle East, Africa, South and Latin America, northwards to the United States and Canada. The problems stemmed from a European datacenter near London, which spread across to other regions and datacenters, causing a massive backlog of pending data.

Understood to be the worst outage in the 12 year history of Research in Motion, the aftermath of compensation of free BlackBerry World applications left many angered and frustrated.

The communication from the company was also lamented, after confusing language and acronyms were used on Twitter by the Canadian company, leaving many baffled by the still-then misunderstood outage.

The full Canadian suit can be found here [PDF].


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