TEXARKANA, ARK. -- In the Miller County, Ark., 'click-fraud' class action case, plaintiffs and defendant Findwhat.com (MIVA, Inc.) announced recently, that they have reached terms of class settlement and believe settlement is imminent.
MIVA, Inc. has not released details of the future settlement.
Class representatives, Lane's Gifts and Collectibles, US Citizens for Fair Credit Card Terms, Inc., Savings 4 Merchants and Caulfield Investigations filed the original class action against Yahoo!, Overture Services, Inc., Time Warner, America Online, Netscape Communications Corporation, Ask Jeeves, Inc., Go.com, Google, Lycos, Inc., Looksmart, LTD, and Findwhat.com, Inc. in February 2005 in Judge Joe E. Griffin's Miller County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit states these defendants, who are either Internet search engines or providers of Web search capabilities, sell Pay- Per- Click advertising. Plaintiffs allege they were charged and overcharged by defendants for pay -per- click advertising that was not generated by actual consumer clicks.
The plaintiffs state the defendants knowingly and fraudulently concealed the overcharges to collect further revenue. Additional causes of action included in the plaintiffs' second amended complaint include breach of contract, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy.
"This is an industry wide conspiracy in which all search engines have worked together to develop and/or create a market which allows for over billing and/or overcharging of businesses and/or entities which purchase online pay per click advertising," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs are seeking monetary restitution for the overcharges.
Controversy arose earlier in the litigation when Google chose to settle out of the case. Although numerous companies and individuals filed objections and attempted to intervene, Judge Griffin granted the settlement and dismissed Google on July 26, 2006.
Google agreed to pay a minimum of $30 million in advertising credits or if not claimed by the class, Google will pay the remainder of the sum plus an additional $30 million to charities. As part of the settlement stipulation agreement, plaintiffs' class counsel was awarded $30 million for attorney costs and fees.
On Sept. 27, the litigation entered a 90-day abatement period ending Nov. 21.
In a special setting memo on Sept. 28, Judge Griffin states that if defendants have not reached a settlement agreement by the end of the abatement period, hearings will be held to rule on various defendants' motions to dismiss.
Defendant's motion to dismiss for plaintiffs' failure to state facts for which relief can be granted is set for Dec. 3. A motion to dismiss under lack of jurisdiction in the subject matter, improper venue, and failure to state facts for which relief can be granted is set for Jan. 7, 2008.
Findwhat.com's (MIVA, Inc.) announcement of potential settlement follows a recent string of defendants obtaining dismissal from the click fraud litigation. Judge Griffin has allowed defendants Time Warner, AOL, Netscape, Yahoo and Overture Services to be dismissed from the case.
Although both plaintiffs and the defendant state settlement is near, settlement details have not been released.
Self-described, MIVA, Inc. is a global digital media company with two focuses: "owning and operating a growing portfolio of consumer destination sites and category specific toolbars, through its MIVA Direct division; and running a third-party contextual Pay-Per-Click ad network focused on key vertical sectors, through its MIVA Media ad network division."
The plaintiffs' class counsel includes Texarkana attorney, John Goodson of the Keil and Goodson, P.A. law firm.
Miller Country Circuit Court Judge Joe Griffin is presiding.
Lane's Gifts et al vs. Yahoo!, Inc. et al. Case No.: cv-2005-52-1