|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
AOL class-action suits pile up
(IDG) -- The latest version of America Online's Internet software hasn't been receiving a warm welcome in the U.S. AOL 5.0, already faced with several class-action lawsuits, this week finds itself slapped with two more. The lawsuits allege that AOL 5.0 makes changes to customers' PCs that make it hard, if not impossible, for them to connect to alternative Internet service providers.
The most recent lawsuits were filed Thursday in New Jersey and yesterday in Oregon and seek class-action status on behalf of all users in those U.S. states who installed AOL version 5.0. They follow similar lawsuits filed earlier this year in Washington, Arizona, Virginia, Colorado, and Ohio. The Virginia lawsuit is seeking $8 billion in damages.
The claims made in all of the lawsuits are similar, and relate to the most recent version of AOL's Internet software -- AOL version 5.0 -- released in October of 1999.
AOL failed to inform customers that installing the AOL 5.0 upgrade would make "dramatic changes" to their operating systems and would interfere with their ability to connect to competing ISP networks, according to a statement issued today by Hagens Berman, a law firm handling four of the lawsuits, including the two most recent filings.
"AOL 5.0 promised users 500 free hours of faster, better Internet access," attorney Steve Berman said in Thursday's statement. "But in reality, many novice users found that once they installed AOL 5.0, removing the software was nearly impossible."
AOL didn't immediately return a call on Thursday about the latest lawsuits. In the past the company has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the features added to AOL 5.0 were requested by AOL members and are designed to provide them with more seamless access to the Internet.
Users must grant permission before any changes are made to their computer settings, and any users who agree to the changes inadvertently can find instructions in the AOL help area about how to change them back, according to AOL. The company maintains that users can use multiple ISPs with AOL version 5.0.
The various courts have yet to approve class-action status for any of the lawsuits filed against the ISP, a spokesperson for Hagens Berman says, adding that the approval process typically takes 30 to 90 days. The number of users represented in each lawsuit is expected to run into the tens of thousands, the spokesperson says.
The four suits filed by Hagens Berman seek unspecified monetary damages.
German group warns against installing AOL 5.0
RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
AOL 5.0 draws more fire
America Online, Inc.
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.