Update, November 26th 2013: The amount payable for virtual land held by claimants meeting the revised criteria of the settlement agreement is L$2 per square metre of land held held. The amount payable for inventory held by claimants meeting the revised criteria of the settlement agreement is $15 USD per account. Claimants may additionally be able to forego the payment if they wish, and attempt to sell their items via the SL Marketplace.
In June I reported on an out-of-court settlement reached between Linden Lab and a number of SL residents in the matter of a dispute over virtual Lab ownership.
At the time it broke, the Evans et al lawsuit against Linden Lab has strong echoes of the infamous Bragg vs. Linden Lab situation of 2007. The action was brought by the plaintiffs after having their accounts terminated and their assets (land, content, Linden dollars) seized, as was the case with Bragg. What’s more, the plaintiffs were represented by Jason Archinaco, who had represented Marc Bragg back in 2007. In a final twist of fate, the matter was initially set to be heard by Judge Eduardo Robreno, who presided over the Bragg case.
As it turned out, the matter eventually came before Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu. In November 2012, she published findings on the case, which granted Subclass A of the motion filed by Archinaco on behalf of the plaintiffs whilst also denying the Main Class of the action.
As a result of this, an initial settlement agreement was executed by the two parties in May 2013. At the time, it appeared as if a settlement amounting to some $172,000 had been agreed, which would potentially be paid out to some 57,000 users who met the criteria of Subclass A, and that the payout would be made in Linden dollars.
However, according to a report published by Top Class Actions on Sunday November 3rd, following a request by Judge Ryu, the initial settlement agreement between Linden Lab and the plaintiffs passed through a series of revisions prior to the Judge granting preliminary approval to it on October 25th, 2013. Under this revised settlement agreement, the Class Members include:
All persons whose assets, including virtual items, virtual land, and/or currency in lindens and/or U.S. dollars, have been deliberately and intentionally converted by Defendant Linden’s suspension or closure of their Second Life accounts on or after April 16th, 2008.
This is slightly different to Judge Ryu’s original findings on the Subclass, which carried no limiting date when published.
Under the revised terms, Linden Lab has agreed to return up to 100 percent of the U.S. dollar balances in the Class Members’ accounts to their PayPal accounts within 10 days of establishing the validity of the claim, and to also return up to 100 percent of the balance of linden dollars by converting them to U.S. dollars and will waive all commissions on the currency exchange. Finally, Linden Lab has also agreed to pay for virtual property and virtual items once the validity of each claim is determined.
Precisely what this means in terms of overall payout is unclear. The next step in the process is for the Class Administrator to notify Class Members of settlement by email. A hearing on the final approval of the settlement has been scheduled for February 27th, 2014.
- Judge OKs Second Life Virtual Money Class Action Settlement – Top Class Actions
- Evans et al vs. Linden Lab – L$43 million settlement
- Judge Donna M. Ryu’s initial findings – November 2012 (US District Court, Northern District, California)
- Evans et al: file and counter-file – this blog, August 2010
- Echoes of Bragg: Evans et al vs. Linden Lab – this blog, April 2010
- Evans et al vs Linden Lab: The new lawsuit on the block – Tateru Nino, Massively, April 2010
- Plantiff’s original filing – April 2010 (US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia)
With thanks to Danko Whitfield