VERIZON EMAIL BLOCKING CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
Verizon Online E-Mail Interruption on April 22-23, 2006 At 5 a.m. EST on April 22, Verizon Online implemented an update to their anti-spam software that contained a software defect. The defect inadvertently caused incoming e-mail to verizon.net e-mail accounts from various mail servers to be returned to the sender and not delivered to its intended verizon.net recipient. Verizon regrets any inconvenience this may have caused.
As a result the issues caused by this software defect, a class action lawsuit was initiated against Verizon.
This website was created to notify and educate those persons who were not only effected by the software defect, but also became part of the class action lawsuit.
The new owners of this domain have chose to keep the content from the site's 2006 archived pages for historical purposes.
WELCOME TO THE WEBSITE FOR THE VERIZON EMAIL BLOCKING CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
A proposed settlement has been reached in two class action proceedings alleging that, beginning in October 2004, Verizon blocked legitimate incoming emails to certain Verizon.net subscribers.
The Class is defined as:
All business and residential customers of Verizon FiOS, DSL, and dial-up Internet services in the United States at any time from October 1, 2004 to May 31, 2005, who had use of one or more email accounts on the Verizon.net email platform.
You may be a member of the Class whose rights are affected by this lawsuit.
If the settlement is approved, Class Members who complete and return a Claim Form on or before October 13, 2006 may be eligible to receive settlement benefits. Please click here to submit a claim electronically.
The sender of the e-mail should have received a notice stating that their e-mail had not been delivered because it was identified as spam. The e-mail providers affected included AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, Google, RoadRunner and other smaller e-mail providers. Verizon customers' ability to send e-mail during this time was not affected. Verizon was able to resolve the issue and incoming mail delivery from the affected mail servers resumed by midnight, April 23 EST. Verizon Online customers who think they may not have received e-mails they were expecting over the weekend should contact the sender and ask them to re-send the e-mail. Those sending e-mail to verizon.net e-mail accounts through one of the affected e-mail services should not need to take any action to have their e-mail unblocked.
|PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT DATES:|
|Last day to request exclusion (Opt Out)||May 19, 2006||
|Last day to submit objection||May 19, 2006||
Last day to submit Claim Form
|August 9, 2006||October 13, 2006|
|Final Approval Hearing||June 20, 2006||August 29, 2006|
Verizon Class Action Settlement
TO: ALL PERSONS AND BUSINESSES WITH A "VERIZON.NET" EMAIL ADDRESS
This Notice Is Given To Inform You Of The Proposed Settlement Of A Class Action. If The Settlement Is Approved By The Court, Certain Benefits May Be Available To You In Settlement Of Claims Relating To Verizon’s Provision of Electronic Mail Services.
THIS NOTICE CONCERNS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY AND VISIT WWW.EMAILBLOCKINGSETTLEMENT.COM.
A. In February 2005, seven subscribers (the "Class Representatives") of Verizon’s digital subscriber line ("DSL") and dial-up Internet Service filed two class action proceedings, one in California state court and another before the American Arbitration Association, against Verizon Internet Services Inc. and other Verizon entities (which will all be referred to in this Notice as "Verizon"). The Complaints in the two class action proceedings (the "Actions") allege that beginning in October 2004, Verizon, in an overbroad attempt to block spam and other illegitimate emails, blocked legitimate incoming emails to certain Verizon subscribers. The Complaints allege that Verizon did not provide advance notice to its customers of the blocks and did not appropriately respond to customer complaints about them. The Plaintiffs allege that Verizon’s spam-blocking system constituted a breach of an asserted contractual obligation to deliver email in accordance with accepted email delivery protocols, and that Verizon has been unjustly enriched. Verizon denies any liability to Plaintiffs and asserts various defenses to liability including its contractual right to block unsolicited email directed to its subscribers.
B. After independent investigation and the exchange of formal and informal discovery, the parties engaged in comprehensive settlement negotiations. Following the parties’ negotiations, and as a result of further investigations and expert consultation, the parties have reached an agreement (the "Settlement Agreement") providing for the settlement of the Actions.
C. The Court has certified a class (the "Settlement Class"), for settlement purposes only, consisting of:
"All business and residential customers of Verizon FiOS, DSL, and dial-up internet services in the United States at any time from October 1, 2004 to May 31, 2005 who had use of one or more email accounts on the Verizon.net email platform."
The Class does not include subscribers of Verizon’s managed messaging service, nor does it include any Verizon employees or their immediate family members.
D. The Class Representatives and Class Counsel (listed below) believe that the claims asserted in the Actions have merit, but that the settlement, described below, is in the best interests of the Settlement Class. Class Counsel have evaluated information made available in the course of the Actions and have taken into account the risks and uncertainties of proceeding with this litigation. Those risks include the uncertainty of obtaining class certification, prevailing on the merits, proving substantial damages at trial, and prevailing on post-trial motions and likely appeals. Based upon their consideration of these factors, and on the substantial time and expense that will be incurred, the Class Representatives and Class Counsel believe it is in the best interests of the Settlement Class to settle the Actions on the terms described below.
E. Verizon, while denying any liability to the Class Representatives or the Settlement Class, has agreed to settle the Actions for the purpose of avoiding the uncertainties and expense of, and diversion of business resources resulting from, further litigation.
F. Neither the California Court nor the American Arbitration Association has determined the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims or Verizon’s defenses. This Notice does not imply that there have been or would be any findings of violation of the law by Verizon or that recovery could be had in any amount if the Actions were not settled.
II. TERMS OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
The following is a summary of pertinent provisions of the Settlement Agreement and is not a complete statement of the settlement or of the Actions. To take effect, this Settlement must be approved by the Court.
A. Changes to Verizon’s Spam-Blocking System
Verizon has agreed to implement and has implemented certain changes to the manner in which it prevents spam from reaching Verizon.net email accounts, how it provides notice to senders whose emails are blocked, and how it responds to reports from customers and others that legitimate emails are being blocked. The changes are intended (1) to provide a better means of distinguishing between spam and legitimate email, so as more effectively to deliver legitimate email and limit the blocks to spam, (2) to make the new system more effective in providing automated electronic notification to senders when their email is blocked, and (3) to improve Verizon’s ability to respond more effectively to reports that legitimate email has been blocked.
B. Cash Awards
1. Settlement Class Members who did not receive legitimate email between October 2004 and May 2005 from a sender in the Asian region – which includes any of the countries listed at www.EmailBlockingSettlement.com/AsianRegion.htm – are eligible to receive a cash payment of $3.50 per month for each month from October 2004 to May 2005 during which they were a Verizon DSL, FiOS, or dial-up subscriber, for a maximum of eight months, or a maximum of $28.00.
2. Settlement Class Members who did not receive legitimate email between December 2004 and May 2005 from a sender in the European region – which includes any of the countries listed at www.EmailBlockingSettlement.com/EuropeanRegion.htm – are eligible to receive a cash payment of $3.50 per month for each month from December 2004 to May 2005 during which they were a Verizon DSL, FiOS, or dial-up subscriber, for a maximum of six months, or a maximum of $21.00.
3. To obtain this award, such Settlement Class Members must timely submit a properly completed Claim Form by August 9, 2006. You may submit your Claim Form electronically online at https://secureweb.rustconsulting.com/emailblockingsettlement/Instructions.aspx, or, if unable to submit electronically, you may mail your completed Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting, Inc., P.O. Box 1324, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1324, postmarked no later than August 9, 2006.
C. Supplemental Services Made Available to Other Settlement Class Members
1. Settlement Class Members who did not receive legitimate email between October 2004 and May 2005 from regions other than the Asian region and European region and who are not eligible to receive the relief described in paragraphs A(1) and A(2) above are entitled to receive, free of charge for a period of four consecutive months, the "Verizon Internet Security Suite" of services offered by Verizon to its subscribers at www2.verizon.net/micro/vissconsumer/. Verizon is not obligated to make the services available after the four-month period, but Verizon may choose to provide instructions to such Settlement Class Members on how to continue receiving the services for a fee. If Verizon provides such instructions, such Settlement Class Members may elect to continue to receive the services at the price and on the terms and conditions generally offered to the public.
2. To obtain these free services, such Settlement Class Members must timely submit a properly completed Claim Form by August 9, 2006. You may submit your Claim Form electronically online at https://secureweb.rustconsulting.com/emailblockingsettlement/Instructions.aspx, or, if unable to submit electronically, you may mail your completed Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting, Inc., P.O. Box 1324, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1324, postmarked no later than August 9, 2006.
D. Refund of Early Termination Fees
1. Settlement Class Members who cancelled their Verizon DSL, FiOS, or dial-up subscription at any time after September 2004 because of their inability to receive legitimate email, and were charged and paid an early termination fee, will receive from Verizon a full refund of the early termination fee paid.
2. To obtain a refund of the termination fee, such Settlement Class Members must properly submit a Claim Form by August 9, 2006. You may submit your Claim Form electronically online at https://secureweb.rustconsulting.com/emailblockingsettlement/Instructions.aspx, or, if unable to submit electronically, you may mail your completed Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting, Inc., P.O. Box 1324, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1324, postmarked no later than August 9, 2006.
E. Expanded Disclosure of Verizon’s Spam-Blocking Policy
The parties have agreed upon an announcement describing Verizon’s current spam-blocking policies and steps subscribers can take to receive legitimate email while limiting the receipt of spam. The announcement may be found on the official class action website, www.EmailBlockingSettlement.com, or by visiting Verizon’s website at http://netservices.verizon.net/portal/msa/bookmark?announcement&id=volspam.
F. Additional Customer Support
Verizon has agreed to provide additional guidelines and training for customer service and technical support on spam-blocking policies and procedures as well as services available to assist subscribers receive blocked email in accordance with Verizon’s spam blocking policies.
If the Settlement is approved by the Court, Settlement Class Members who have not filed a valid and timely request for exclusion shall be forever barred from suing Defendants and their past, present, and future directors, officers, employees, agents, insurers, shareholders, attorneys, advisors, consultants, representatives, partners, affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, joint venturers, independent contractors, divisions, predecessors, successors, and assigns, for any and all liabilities, claims, causes of action, damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, losses, or demands, whether known or unknown, existing or potential, or suspected or unsuspected, that were or could have been asserted in the Actions. This release includes but is not limited to liabilities, claims, causes of action, damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, losses, or demands, arising from Verizon’s policies and procedures for the blocking or limitation of illegitimate, bulk, or abusive emails including spam and emails containing or believed to contain viruses, worms, or other threats. This release will bind all members of the Settlement Class regardless of whether they file a claim or receive any benefits under this settlement.
In connection with the release and discharge of the foregoing claims, each member of the Settlement Class shall be deemed to have expressly waived all rights under California Civil Code section 1542 (or any like or similar statute or common law doctrine), and to have done so understanding the significance of that waiver. Section 1542 provides:
"A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE CREDITOR DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER MUST HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR."
III. YOUR RIGHTS TO PARTICIPATE IN, EXCLUDE YOURSELF FROM, OR OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT
A. If you wish to participate in the Settlement, you do not need to appear at the hearing discussed below. However, in order to receive any of the settlement remedies, you must properly complete and return the Claim Form by August 9, 2006. You can obtain assistance in completing the Claim Form by logging on to www.EmailBlockingSettlement.com, calling 1-866-730-8147 or contacting Class Counsel listed below.
B. If you do not wish to remain a member of the Class, you may exclude yourself from the Class. If you request to be excluded from the Class, you will not be entitled to receive any benefits from the Settlement, you may not object to the Settlement, and you will retain any individual rights you have with respect to the claims asserted in the Actions. If you wish to be excluded from the Class, you must fill out an exclusion request onlineat www.EmailBlockingSettlement.com no later than May 19, 2006, or submit a written exclusion request addressed to Settlement Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting, Inc., P.O. Box 1324, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1324, postmarked no later than May 19, 2006. The notification must clearly indicate that you request to be excluded from the Class, and must include your name, address and telephone number. A list of class members requesting exclusion will be filed with the Court.
If you do not request exclusion, then:
(1) you will be bound by the final judgment entered in this class action; and
(2) you may, if you so elect, object to the proposed settlement.
C. You may, if you desire, appear at the Settlement Hearing to object to the proposed Settlement or to the application for attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses, if you do not request to be excluded from the Class. To do so, you must file a written notice of objection, together with a statement of your reasons, with the Court, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, located at 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90005. To be considered by the Court, all objections (including all supporting documentation or evidence of any kind) must be received before May 19, 2006, and copies must also be sent to:
Michael J. Boni
Kohn, Swift, & Graf, P.C.
One South Broad Street, Suite 2100
Philadelphia, PA 19107
and to Verizon’s counsel:
Henry Weissmann, Esq.
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
355 South Grand Ave, 35th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071-1560
You have the right to consult and/or retain an attorney of your choice at your own expense, to advise you regarding the settlement and your rights in connection with the settlement and the Settlement Hearing as described in Section IV.A. below. You also have the right, either personally or through an attorney retained and paid by you, to seek to intervene in the Actions.
IV. SETTLEMENT FAIRNESS HEARING ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND EXPENSES, AND OTHER PAYMENTS
A. On June 20, 2006, at 9:00 a.m., a hearing will be held in Department #308 of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, located at 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90005, to determine whether the Settlement should be approved by the Court as fair, reasonable, and adequate, and whether judgment should be entered thereon ("Settlement Hearing").
B. The Court will also consider at the Settlement Hearing the request of Class Counsel for an award of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses in the amount of $1,400,000 and special awards to the seven Class Representatives in the amount of $1,000 each, for the services they have rendered in the Actions, which Verizon has agreed to pay as a part of this Settlement over and above the other remedies described in this Notice.
C. Your attendance at the Settlement Hearing is not required. However, you may be heard orally at the Settlement Hearing in opposition to the proposed Settlement or Class Counsels’ application for attorneys’ fees and expenses, but only if you have not requested to be excluded from the Settlement Class and have timely filed written objections in the manner described above, including a statement that you intend to appear and be heard at the Settlement Hearing. You may also enter an appearance through an attorney, at your own expense. If you do not do so, you will be represented in the Actions by Class Counsel.
D. Pending final determination of whether the settlement should be approved, you and your representatives are barred from filing any lawsuit asserting any claims against Verizon that relate to the settled claims as defined above.
V. FURTHER INFORMATION
A. For more details of the matters involved in this Action, you may inspect the case files at the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, Docket Number BC32828, during regular business hours.
B. Inquiries regarding the Settlement benefits and procedures may be directed to the Settlement Administrator at 1-866-730-8147 or visit www.EmailBlockingSettlement.com.
PLEASE DO NOT CALL, OR DIRECT ANY INQUIRIES TO THE COURT, TO VERIZON, OR TO VERIZON’S COUNSEL.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How do I know if I am a class member?
The class includes all business and residential customers of Verizon FiOS, DSL, and dial-up Internet services in the United States at any time from October 1, 2004 to May 31, 2005, who had use of one or more email accounts on the Verizon.net email platform.
2. What are the benefits of this settlement?
Along with the changes to Verizon’s Spam-blocking policies and procedures that provide a better means of distinguishing between Spam and legitimate email, Class members who submit an Approved Claim Form could receive either a cash payment or Supplemental Services at no cost.
Settlement Class Members who submit an approved claim for failure to receive email from a sender in the Asian Region shall receive a cash payment of $3.50 for each month between October 1, 2004 and May 31, 2005 that he or she was a customer of Verizon Internet Service, for a maximum of eight months, or a maximum of $28.00.
Settlement class members who submit an approved claim for failure to receive email from a sender in the European Region shall receive a cash payment of $3.50 for each month between December 1, 2004 and May 31, 2005 that he or she was a customer of Verizon Internet Service, for a maximum of six months, or a maximum of $21.00.
Settlement Class Members who did not receive legitimate email between October 2004 and May 2005 from regions other than the Asian and European Regions are eligible to receive, free of charge for a period of four consecutive months, the “Verizon Internet Security Suite” of services.
A list of countries in the Asian and European Regions is available on this website.
In addition to the other relief provided, each Settlement Class Member who submits an approved claim and who has paid an early termination fee to Verizon as a result of terminating Verizon Internet Service after October 1, 2004 and who certifies under penalty of perjury that he or she terminated the service as a result of the inability to receive email during the covered time, shall be entitled to receive a refund of the early termination fee (unless such fee has previously been refunded in whole or in part).
3. What do I have to do now?
If you are a member of the Settlement Class, you may
- remain in the Settlement Class, submit a Claim Form and be eligible to receive the benefits of the settlement; or
- exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, in which event you can not participate in the settlement and its benefits; or
- object to the settlement.
These rights are described more fully in the Notice which you received by email, and which is also available on this website.
4. What do I do if no longer have access to the Internet? Where do I send my completed Claim Form?
You can mail the completed Claim Form along with a certification that you are unable to submit a claim online by the postmark deadline of August 9, 2006 to:
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc.
PO Box 1324
Minneapolis, MN 55440-1324
5. How am I supposed to know if I did NOT receive an email from a particular region?
It is not necessary for you to identify specifics such as the date of the blocked email, the name of the sender or the specific region. If you do have that information, then supply it. But the Claim Form provides a way to submit valid claims even if you don't know these details.
For example, you might not have received emails you had previously been receiving from family, friends or business contacts. If you had ongoing email correspondence for personal or business purposes, and you believe that you may not have received all emails that your correspondents sent to you, then simply explain, in the space provided on the Claim Form (located on the second screen of the online Claim Form) where it states, "If you do not know the email address for the region checked above, provide a brief description of your relationship with the person or entity in that region from which you did not receive expected legitimate email", that you know someone or a business in a particular region with whom you had email correspondence, and that you believe some emails from that person or business did not reach you. Or, if you advertise on the Internet or you rely on referrals, and your incoming email traffic dropped at any time from October 2004 to May 2005, simply explain so in the space provided.
Your claim will be considered so long as you provide a brief description of the circumstances under which you had a reasonable expectation of email from a certain region but did not get it.
6. What if I still have questions?
If you still have questions, you may write to the Settlement Administrator at:
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc.
PO Box 1324
Minneapolis, MN 55440-1324
Or, contact Class Counsel at:
Michael J. Boni, Esq.
Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C.
One South Broad Street, Suite 2100
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Statement From Verizon Online Regarding Spam Filtering AndIts Impact On Delivery of Your Email
As an ISP, Verizon Online is working hard to address serious security threats on the Internet by closely monitoring our network for incoming and outgoing spam and by working cooperatively with others across the ISP industry on anti-spam initiatives
These round-the-clock efforts include blocking spam and propagation of viruses from sources we identify using methods that are consistent with industry practices. This is a long-standing policy at Verizon Online.
When we identify sources of spam or viruses, we block them as narrowly as we can and,where possible,we work directly with whoever manages that source to notify them of the issue. We then continuously monitor the source and will lift the block as soon as we are satisfied the threat has been resolved. In many cases,this is resolved within two days; however, we will not remove a block as long as a serious threat remains.
In April 2005,Verizon Modified Its Spam Blocking Policy And Procedures In An Effrt To M re Effectivelx Block Spam Only While Delivering Legitimate Email. However, Because No Policy Is Perfect, The Modified Policy Notifies Senders Of Blocked Email That Their Email Did Not Reach The Intended Recipient.
A ny spam-blocking method will, inevitably, result in the blocking or delay of legitimate e-mail. This is yet another reason why spammers are harmfulto the Internet community. If you believe you are not receiving legitimate e-mail, you should call or email(link) our technical support desk for assistance and we will work to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Our Verizon Online Web site also features an Internet security page with practical tips and tools that can help customers protect themselves from Internet threats. It can be found at http://broadbandbeat.verizon.net/safety_security.
We believe that fighting spam is the right thing to do for the safety and security of our more than 4 million broadband and dial-up customers.
To report problems sending e-mailto Verizon Online customers or receiving e-mailfrom a specific address or domain:
• For Verizon Online customers: If you want to report problems receiving e-mail from specific servers, click here.
• For ISPs:If youwant to report problems sending e-mail to Verizon Online customers,click here.
Disclaimer: The above links are not for reporting technical-support or billing-related issues. This resource is intended for use if you are having issues receiving e.rnailfrom specific domains or addresses (but the remainder of your e mailservice is functioning properly) and forissues sending e-mailto Verizon Online customers. If your e-mailis not functioning properly,please contact Verizon Online technical support to address your issues. All issues not related to specific servers submitted via this form will be deleted.
The final fairness hearing date has been moved from June 20, 2006 to August 29, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. It will be held at the same location: Department 308 of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90005.
Other important dates have been changed as well. Click here for revised deadlines to file claims or to opt-out of or object to the settlement.
Reason for the Changes: Shortly after the Court gave its preliminary approval to the settlement and the Class Notice was sent out in April 2006, the parties were faced with three issues: 1) Approximately 500,000 class members had not received notice because of mis-addressed postcards or bounced emails; 2) The parties determined that the Security Suite award could not benefit former Verizon subscribers or existing subscribers who do not use a Windows operating system; and 3) A number of class members advised Class Counsel of problems they had receiving legitimate email from senders in the U.S.
As a result of these three issues, the parties took the following action: First, they sought a 30-day stay of the settlement proceedings in order to resolve these issues. Second, they agreed on acceptable alternative relief to the Security Suite from Verizon. (Click here to learn about the alternative relief.) Third, they agreed to deliver postcard notice to the class members who have not yet received notice. Fourth, they investigated the complaints with respect to domestic email delivery, concluded that there were no institutional problems with Verizon’s spam-blocking policy as it is applied to domestic email delivery, and agreed that the complaints received have been or would be resolved through Verizon’s white listing program or other means. Fifth, the parties held a conference with the Court on June 5, 2006 and the Court granted the parties’ request to offer the alternative relief and to re-schedule the important dates and deadlines, as listed below.