Gibbs Law Group and Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy LLP (CPM), both with offices in San Francisco, Calif., jointly announced last week that a proposed settlement was reached in a nationwide Vizio class action lawsuit over allegations that Vizio secretly tracked what was displayed on about 16 million Smart TVs for three years. The class action alleges Vizio collected and sold consumers’ viewing histories—along with information about their digital identities—to third parties, without consumers’ knowledge or consent.
Plaintiffs were represented by Eric Gibbs and Andrew Mura of Gibbs Law and Joseph Cotchett and Adam Zapala of CPM.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Vizio will establish a $17 million settlement fund that will deliver money directly to consumers who bought Vizio Smart TVs that were subsequently connected to the Internet between February 1, 2014 and February 6, 2017. Vizio has also stopped tracking what is displayed on its Smart TVs unless a consumer consents to this tracking after receiving a prominent notification. And Vizio will delete the remaining contested viewing data in its possession.
“After years of intensive litigation, we are pleased to present the Court with a nationwide class action settlement that is restorative,” Mura said. “$17 million is more than the revenue Vizio obtained from licensing viewing data during this three-year period, and the changes that Vizio is making and recently made to its business put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their viewing data. This is not only important relief for the class, it sets an important precedent for the entire consumer electronics industry at a time when companies are leveraging new technologies to track customers without their knowledge or consent.”
The Court is expected to hold a hearing on Dec. 7, 2018, in federal court in Santa Ana, California, to consider preliminarily approving the proposed settlement. The Court will also decide whether to send a notice through the Smart TVs and via e-mail that will alert affected customers about the settlement and the timing and process to file a claim for payment. No deadlines to participate in the proposed settlement have been set yet.
In 2017, Gibbs Law Group was one of the firms representing the plaintiffs in the largest data breach settlement in U.S. history.