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Judge OKs Class-Action Suit Against Microsoft 240

faqBastard writes: "This just in from CNBC. A California judge has OK'ed a class action lawsuit against MS. Has it's monopolistic practices harmed Calif consumers?" There really isn't much more to read here, but I'm sure we'll know more soon.
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Judge OKs Class Action Suit Against Microsoft

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  • Yes, if they win then Microsoft cuts checks to purchasers in California for a few bucks each. Not a major setback for Bill.

    This still has to wait on the Federal Antitrust trial results.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • Why can't we just let the doj handle this?

    Do people find it necessary to complain just for the sake of complaining? This is just an attempt not to punish Microsoft, but to get a few people money and a big name for some hot shot lawyers.
  • Wow, that article had enough details to let me know all about the case

    Anyone have any real details as to what this case is? Links to a better article would be good.

  • They mention that MS overcharged California residents. Why only CA, rather than other states?

    Was this Microsoft's way of getting back at California residents for ripping them off [slashdot.org] earlier this year? :)
  • 1. How can I join
    2. what needs to be shown to join the class action, use of MS products, or do you need to show that you have been harmed by ms products?
    3.how will this affect alternative OS's?
  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:43AM (#816542) Homepage
    More info at CBS MarketWatch [marketwatch.com].

    An excerpt:

    • Courts in Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas have dismissed similar class-action lawsuits on grounds that laws in those states don't allow them.
  • Some how I have a problem seeing California being harmed by much of anything, aside from falling in the ocean...
  • Read it again, this is a violation of a State law being tested.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • How can we ever measure the damage that M$ has done? How can we ever say how farther computing would be if M$ did not stifle competition? While making Billy pay us money might help, there is no way to recover the time lost due to M$.
  • Yes, if they win then Microsoft cuts checks to purchasers in California for a few bucks each. Not a major setback for Bill.

    If they win, the floodgates will open up. Even Bill will feel the pinch of lawsuits like this in every state.

  • So what the hell is up with California? They seem to be the Feel-good state. If there is anything hurting someone (smoking in bars..) or the enviorment (most restrictive polution laws in the world.., they wil be the first to jump on it. I agree MS needs a little slap now and then, but what are they starting and where is it going? Who else is going to inevetably drawn into this? The point of this ramble is this: Will this set a bad and permenant precedent for action on all future software production?

  • That's not my point. I don't care state or federal. M$ is already getting beaten up over this. Like I said, the true points are all being missed here and now everyone's just trying to jump on the bandwagon.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:47AM (#816549) Homepage Journal
    Why can't we just let the doj handle this?

    The DOJ is going after them for violation of antitrust laws, the class action lawsuit is about holding them accountable for the negative impact that their products have had on consumers.

    Two cases with related issues behind them, but still separate and distinct.

  • Not going to get into a flame war here but freak, there is a *FREE* OS option that allows a consumer to have just about everything they want and in fact there'd be even more when developers perceive a market opportunity of all those consurmers who recognise quality...

    If a consumer is so dumb that they'll pay for their OS then how are they going to twist that into some case that they are being taken advantage of? Guess none of the people filing in the suit had to pay over $1000 for an OS before and don't realize how relatively cheap software has become in the last 20 years.

    And don't bring in the hardware example... that new fangled hardware just makes the coding process more complicated. Ask the compiler developers...

  • No it won't. Now excuse me, I have to go pick up my Glaucoma medication.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:48AM (#816552) Homepage Journal
    Some how I have a problem seeing California being harmed by much of anything, aside from falling in the ocean...

    Consider how much the State Govt, alone, would recoup in something like this. Large businesses, schools, etc. The state isn't just some nebulous entity tied to a chunk of land.

    BTW, we're waiting for that big one, when all the land to the east of the fault slides off into the Atlantic.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmC ... m minus caffeine> on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:48AM (#816553) Homepage
    Federal anti-trust law states that victims of monopolistic practices can sue for three times what they've lost. Not sure if that holds true in state courts, but if it does they could be out some serious money; even if it's just that one state, California makes up a sizeable chunk of the US' population.
  • The class action suit that has been accepted in California claims that Microsoft used its monopolistic position to harm customers by charging high prices.

    Since the price of Microsoft software has gone down constantly during the last 15 years and competitors usually charge higher prices they don't have a chance of winning. If it has been accepted it's just because of the particularities of Californian Law.

    Hell, even in the main case of the DOJ vs. Microsoft the prosecution admitted that Microsoft charges fair prices.
  • ... because if Linux becomes too successful, people will claim that anything he does with Linux is a "monopolistic business practice" and he will be sued repeatedly. I mean, if you try to make an unofficial kernel, he will simply use the GPL to crush you and steal your ideas...

    i'm sure glad *I'M* not sucessful! Apperently, it's a bad thing to aim for, because anybody who is seems to be torn apart on /.

    i've looked at love from both sides now. from win and lose, and still somehow...

  • A consistent subject for this suit would be the OEM thing. I bought a PC => Windows came with it => I don't want Windows => They won't let me return it => MS screwed me on ~$100.

    Weren't there Windows Refund Day events in California? These can be brought to the Judge's attention. I mean, tied sales are illegal, aren't they?
  • by danderson ( 157560 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:52AM (#816557)
    Even Bill will feel the pinch of lawsuits like this in every state.

    True, _if_ lawsuits like this are allowed in every state. From the CNET [cnet.com] article [cnet.com] on the same story

    Courts in Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas have dismissed similar class-action lawsuits on grounds that laws in those states don't allow them.

  • Great. In six paragraphs they managed to not name the plaintiff.
  • by sheckard ( 91376 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:52AM (#816559) Homepage
    From what I've read, the million dollar settlement was a direct response of McD not playing nice. Here's the real story... that particular McD was warned many times about coffee *way* to hot (we're talking above the boiling point here) and refused to do anything about it, saying that people like coffee hot. People may like coffee hot, but I'm sure people don't like it boiling hot! So the lady spills her coffee, finds out about the history of complaints about way too hot coffee, and decides to talk to a lawyer. Initially, they wanted McD to pay *the cost of the medical bills only* and McD flat-out refused, so they took them to court. And they won $1M and the rest was history.

    If a company treated me like an ass when I asked nice, you better believe I would do the same thing.
  • Too true, too true. If there was ever an AC post to moderate up, this is it.
  • I don't quite understand what this is about from reading the article. Although I despise Microsoft and use Linux almost exclusively at home, I don't think Windows or Microsoft products are that expensive. Commercial UNIXes are (or used to be) much higher. Windows 98 retails for $99. Just a few years ago, Solaris x86 was like $1200, SCO was like $800. Word 2000 is $300. Adobe Acrobat is $249, FrameMaker is $799.

    Please don't flame me... I'm comparing types of applications, not quality. I don't care what you like better... the things I listed are comparable in base feature sets;

    "Evil beware: I'm armed to the teeth and packing a hampster!"
  • 1 & 2: You have to live in the state of California, and, presumably, purchased Micro$oft Producs that you have registered. Remember, the lawsuit is over monopolistic practices which have led to OVERLY INFLATED prices for consumers in California.

    3: This shouldn't have any effect on alternative OS's because most alternative OS's are free (as in beer).

    I'm guessing, from experience with previous class action lawsuits, if the state wins, any person who has purchased certain MS products in the state of California will be entitled to a rebate in the mail. You'll probably have to do the footwork on this yourself, as in, it won't be mailed to you, you need to go out and find this for yourself, mail it in, along with proof of purchase, etc...

    at least that's my $0.02 on it.
  • There's an excellent defense for MS right there.

    "Okay, we admit that we overcharged you by $40 for Windows. We'll just subtract that from the $400 you pilfered from us."
  • "GIVEN CALIFORNIA law, this ruling was not unexpected," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan told Reuters after Superior Court Judge Stuart Pollack approved the suit. "This is just the first step in a very long process."

    Anyone have some insight into this comment? Why is it easier in California to proceed with this litigation than other states where it's been denied?

    "Courts in Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas have dismissed similar class-action lawsuits on grounds that laws in those states don't allow them. (see previous post by Interiot for URL)

    Also, won't a ruling in California like this one affect the process in other states?

    Thanks for any help...

  • This has been discussed in other discussions. Now this is whining.

    The deal with McDonalds was not just that some old lady spilled it in her lap, it was that McDonalds was heating coffee, and serving it, at temperatures that were far and above the line for being within safety standards. They fought it, saying that the extra heat kept the flavor in, but ultimately lost. When you serve food/drink to a customer, that customer shouldn't have to wait 2 hours before being able to drink it.

    And as far as tobacco, the labels are the point of the lawsuits. The lawsuits are being based on victims of tobacco/nicotine that became addicted to the product before the safety labels were mandatory for package. At that time, smokers had no clue that cigarettes could kill them, but once they found out, most were too addicted to stop completely.

    I don't see how this got moderated Insightful.
  • And I suppose if you were given the chance to successfully sue a major corporation for millions of dollars... you wouldn't?


  • Well, Linux is free, therefore if MS was charging for Windows, The consumer was getting ripped off.. but if you turn that around,.. Linux is free, so it must be a better deal.. wait I'm confused.....

  • by 1alpha7 ( 192745 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:56AM (#816568) Homepage

    Anyone have any real details

    Here are some details from the WSJ

    A judge allowed the first class-action suit to proceed against Microsoft Corp. on allegations that the software giant's monopoly harmed California consumers. Dozens of similar suits linger nationwide. In a 21-page opinion released late Tuesday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stuart R. Pollak said an untold number of California consumers could be represented in one trial to determine whether they were forced to pay unreasonably high costs for Microsoft products. He said denying the suit "could result in repetitious litigation." "This case involves a very large number of claimants with relatively small amounts at stake," Judge Pollak said. "Most consumers have little incentive to litigate independently since the costs of litigation undoubtedly would overwhelm their potential recovery." Microsoft spokesman James W. Cullinan said the Redmond, Wash., company is reviewing the ruling. "This is just one step in a long process in this case," Mr. Cullinan said. He declined further comment. Attorneys in the case are scheduled to meet with Mr. Pollak on Oct. 4 to prepare for a trial. No trial date has been set yet. The products at issue are Microsoft's Windows operating system, its MS-DOS operating system, Word programs and Excel software purchased on or after May 18, 1994. Microsoft urged Judge Pollak on Aug. 4 not to allow the case to proceed because it would be nearly impossible to determine damages. Microsoft attorney Charles B. Casper argued that the company markets its products to thousands of companies who resell them at different prices, adding that the judge would have to weigh each consumer's claim on a case-by-case basis. Lawyers seeking class-action status said that Microsoft was trying to shield itself behind its size. "Just make your business large enough that you can overcharge and get away with it," San Francisco attorney Daniel J. Furniss argued. Mr. Pollak's decision came three weeks after Microsoft asked a federal judge in Baltimore to dismiss or at least consolidate 62 pending federal and state class-action suits. That action is pending and, so far, none have been able to proceed. Courts in Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas have dismissed similar class-action lawsuits on grounds that laws in those states don't allow them. The majority of the cases nationwide were filed after U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in Washington, D.C., ruled that the company violated federal antitrust laws. Microsoft is appealing Mr. Jackson's ruling and his order to split the software giant into two companies. Three weeks ago, Mr. Pollak suggested that it would be a Herculean task for attorneys to demonstrate how consumers were wronged. "If they can't do it, they'll lose the case," Mr. Pollak said. Microsoft has argued that, even if it was a monopoly, consumers in many instances benefited and were not harmed. For instance, Microsoft says Netscape, now a division of America Online Inc., dropped its roughly $50 charge for a Web browser after Microsoft began giving its browser away for free.

  • Okay, what's the international standard for pricing an operating system bundled with a PC? How can MS's price be considered "high"? Are they comparing it to Apple's bunlding of their OS software with their PC?

    Need something to compare here.
  • Presumably you have to have been a CA resident and bought a copy of Windows. If the findings in the federal antitrust case are any indication you'd probably get a refund of $50 minus lawyer's fees (which are probably about 30% of the TOTAL amount refunded, setting them up for life)
  • With all of these suits going forward, just the process of notifying the class members is going to cost a fortune. I've bought at least 40-50 MSFT products/upgrades over the years. If they can't figure out that I'm one person, my mailbox is going to be flooded.

    On another front, I wonder if this will turn out to be another one of those "my lawyers sued Microsoft and all I got was this lousy $10 voucher" deals. One guess.
  • Apparently the karma recipe for today is making stupid [slashdot.org] karma recipies.
  • Yeah ... I bet the general public is pissed.
    Imagine your general CA consumer. I picture him/her getting home from the store with the latest copy of Windows XX. They are happy that they blew $150 ... because they can boast to all of their friends about how cutting edge they are. But no ... the consumer's friends just laugh and tell him there is this thing called "Linucks" ... The price tag for this: $0!!

    Now, your average consumer would probably be pretty pissed. He'd shout and wave his fists in the air and cry out, "I got robbed! Micro$oft charged me $150 for something that should be free~!!"

    Maybe this is the rationale behind the lawsuit. Who knows ...
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @06:57AM (#816574) Homepage Journal

    Here's the article,

    Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a01f5'

    Illegal assignment: 'MainSectionID'

    /p/cnbc/453052.asp, line 1
    Pretty uninformative, I have to say. How does this show that Microsoft has harme-- oh.
  • What you have to realize is that a lot of End Users don't know about the existence of free OS's. Most of them can be classified as Clueless Newbies. They're on the Internet because their TV shows them commercials with .com in it every time they change a channel. Practically every single product, from cars to movies has it's own URL.

    This, in turn, leads people to by computers they don't know how to use, and quite frankly, since MS has most of the OS share (at least for now), then that's the one they get with their computer.

    And if it can be proved that MS overcharged for that self-same OS, then there IS a case.

  • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:00AM (#816580)

    I worked for a (different) McDonalds at that time. We turned the tempature down a little bit and got so many complaints that we ended up turnging it back up (Note, not up to boiling, but hotter then out compititors). People like coffee hot. Those that don't ask us to put ice in the cup, which we gladdly did free of charge, and always had.

    You can read the court decision, what other restaruants were doing all you want. I personally heard several of the complaints about the coffee after that. We didn't change the tempature immeadially after the lawsuit, and didn't get complaints until after the change, which stoped when we brought the tempature back to where it was. Customers could tell the difference, and didn't like it.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:00AM (#816581) Homepage Journal
    On the contrary, these complaints were simmering before the Federal Antitrust trial got rolling. And when it's your choice being limited and your wallet being hit, I'm sure you'll feel the same.

    The California case centers around monopolistic practices elimitating choice of other software, which may have brought prices down. The People of the State of California must demonstrate that costs were higher than would normally be if there were competition. This isn't an easy thing to prove, and still hinges to some degree upon the success of the antitrust trial.

    If Microsoft Word were being given away free and drove Word Perfect and Displaywriter from store shelves, then they jacked up the prices, it would be open and shut. Most likely people wanted to settle on some standard for documents, spreadsheets, O/S behavior to simplify training, communication and exchange with other parties. The most damning thing really is lack of some storage standard which all vendors could agree on and then compete to make the best wordprocessor. Too many picked Word and the rest have pretty much faded. Without serious competition Microsoft sets prices where they want.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by Electric Angst ( 138229 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:01AM (#816582)
    I can see the settlement figured out now...

    Windows 98 crashes an average of twice a workday. (or ten times a work week)
    Re-booting takes an average of one minute and thirty seconds.
    Five million (wild estimate) CA consumers use 98 at work.
    The average salary of such a worker breaks down to $12/hr.
    There are 52 weeks in a year.


    10 * 52 = 520
    520 * 1.5 = 780
    780 * 5000000 = 3900000000
    3900000000 / 60 = 65000000
    65000000 * 10 = 650000000

    That ends up being about $65,000,000 in lost productivity per year for one simgle product. Of course, this isn't counting the travesty of Marco virii. This is what monopoly does...

    Of course, saying this on Slashdot is like preaching to the snake-handeling, tounge-speaking, chior.
  • by mcwop ( 31034 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:02AM (#816583) Homepage
    I once got a check for 14 CENTS (the other 32 cents went for the stamp - Damn!) from a Blue Cross class action suit in Maryland. The suit was for BC overcharging on premiums. That year my premiums went up over $300. Oh, and I never signed up for the suit. Who made money on that one? The lawyers.

    I wonder. Can I sue the goverment for overpayment of taxes due to the surplus. I would love to have a class action against my garbage collectors who find it difficult to get the trash into the truck rather than on the ground - if they pick it up at all. Can I sue for the pshychological abuse administered by the D.C. Motor Vehicles Administration (similar to experiencing the Spanish Inquisition).
  • by Cannonball ( 168099 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:03AM (#816584)
    I really sincerely doubt it. I don't think you'll find anyone who would argue that cigarette smoking and carbon monoxide are both deadly toxins, and so I think it's totally appropriate that Cali passed those laws. I don't think a "feel good" label is appropriate here, their state government is just concerned with the well being of their citizens, as well they should be. Hey, maybe *that's* why their economy is so good. (isn't it in the top ten worldwide?)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sorry, that's English Common Law for you.

    Well, if you don't want governmental regulation overseeing markets and businesses in MINUTE DETAIL, then you are voting for the old order of private parties keeping each other in line by suing in court. That means lawsuits galore, like in the good old days before governments took a hand in defending the common interest (beyond securing borders, cutting the hands off of thieves, branding adulterers and that sort of thing).

  • It's like when you order that big hairy steak over at the steakhouse, eat 95% of it, then get the waiter, show him/her that remaining bit of your dinner and complain the meat wasn't tender enough and claim a refund.

    In most parts of this planet, people are expected to think or ponder before they act. This may or may not be true for CA.

    Not that I'm one of Bill's Buddies nor do I get regularly invited at Windows Parties, but this is not about M$, it's about common sense. Or lack thereof.

    I am under serious distress when I get my phone bill. Mom, can I sue the phone company, please?

  • ...we're talking above the boiling point here...

    It's not clear how coffee could be maintained at a point above boiling, assuming typical atmospheric pressure.

  • Since the price of Microsoft software has gone down constantly during the last 15 years and competitors usually charge higher prices they don't have a chance of winning. If it has been accepted it's just because of the particularities of Californian Law.

    Are we talking about the same MS software (windows, for example, that has gone from retail $69 to retail $189)? If so, you need to learn some math. Down is towards zero. Up is away from zero.

    In terms of competitors - Debian -$0. Red Hat - $39.

    Office Suites - MS Office - $449. ApplixWare - $99. Corel Office $149 (linux version). Star Office $0.

    Another lesson - more is greater than, less is smaller than.

  • Bugger that. California is one of the most litiganous (sp?) states in the union. Perhaps the best is yet to come. Here is a story at CBS [cbs.com] about the California court allowing victims of LAPD corruption to use the federal anti-racketeering law against the LAPD. The story quotes a law prof that "It really could come close to bankrupting the city."

    Imagine what whould happen if RICO could be applied to MS! Among other things RICO allows for the confiscation of land, buildings, money, etc. from the perpetrator.

  • Smoking in bars: When they banned it I spent hundreds more per month in bars. I hated smoke filled bars when I lived in Michigan.

    Most restrictive polution laws: And yet you can drive around a smoking pre-73 car and the damn things don't rust out.

    Put 35 million people in one legal entity and see what happens.

    If people don't stand up to M$ and other corporations then they will get screwed. If anything it should punish a monopolist and encourage the kind of open-source cooperation often discussed on /. I don't feel that M$ makes the worst products, but I think they need more competition to focus them on actually making better products. Competition stimulates the imagination.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • You can't even compare the office products. That's like asking why VW charges 15K for a car when Porsche charges $50K. They are both cars, right?!

    I've used the Linux office suites..they just aren't as good as MS Office.

    As for Linux to WIndows cost, that's different too. RedHat's cost is mostly, or almost all, in boxes and manuals. Microsoft has to pay a lot of people to write Windows. Totally different expenses there.
  • Hey, maybe *that's* why their economy is so good. (isn't it in the top ten worldwide?)

    6th largest economy in the world. "Feel Good" is about as out of date as the 70's. This is one of the most cutthroat business centers of the world.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:18AM (#816607) Homepage

    Yes, Microsoft has done some things that shouldn't have been done, and yes, they should be held responsible for them. But really! Who is going to benefit from one or more class action lawsuits against the PC software giant? Hint: It won't be the consumers. You can bet that the lawyers will pocket billions before you or I ever see a dollar.

    Bill Gates may be despicable in some eyes, but he is a saint compaired to a lot of the folks working in the legal system.

  • If M$ has a monopol, its hard to compare prices to anything - if you have no competition, you can't be compared with your competition.

    The evidence that M$ has a monopol is drawn by the following conclusion:

    1. Software prices have gone down in the last 10 years constantly

    2. The price of Windows 9x hasn't gone down, it has risen a little - it has moved in the opposite direction of the market

    3. Even adding many new features to software didn't brought prices up

    4. They haven't added many features to Windows 9x

    5. Conclusion: only a monopolist can act this way

    You can't compare Solaris with Windows - Solaris is a server OS, Windows 9x is a home OS. You can't use Windows 9x on a server, and you can't use Solaris on your home PC for the same services.

    You can't compare Acrobat nor FrameMaker with Word: these are different leagues ("Porsche is a very cheap car compared to Rolls Royce").

  • Since the price of Microsoft software has gone down constantly during the last 15 years and competitors usually charge higher prices they don't have a chance of winning.

    You are wrong. While the price of computer systems with MS software has gone down, the fraction of the cost of those systems that is software has gone up. Hardware is cheap.


  • Are we talking about the same MS software (windows, for example, that has gone from retail $69 to retail $189)? If so, you need to learn some math. Down is towards zero. Up is away from zero.

    What versions of Windows are you speaking about? If I go to www.pricewatch.com I can get a retail Windows 98 SE for $80. I guess that $189 is for Windows 2000 Professional.

    In terms of competitors - Debian -$0. Red Hat - $39.

    How much is the version of Solaris you would use on a Workstation? I'm sure that more than $189 which after all is a recommended retail price. Prices for OEMs are much lower.

    Office Suites - MS Office - $449. ApplixWare - $99. Corel Office $149 (linux version). Star Office $0.

    If you are going to compare MS Office and "things" like Corel Office and ApplixWare as equals then there's not much to discuss. Microsoft spends billions of dollars developing this applications. You may like them or not but charging $495 for a full version of Office is by no means excesive. Again, that price is a recommended price. You can find it much cheaper by shopping around and corporate users have huge discounts.

  • by Riplakish ( 213391 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:24AM (#816615)
    it's but about law firms making money. These large-scale class-action suits net the plaintiffs little money on an individual basis, but the 30% the law firm gets is in the millions. There are firms whose sole practice is to file class-action lawsuits in the name of people who didn't even ask for it.

    Basically you get a letter in the mail from the lawyers stating that you are now a plaintiff (one of thousands) in a class-action lawsuit, and if you don't want to participate you have to submit a written letter stating so. This is supposed to protect your right to sue the defendant on your own if you choose to do so, but also exempts you from any proceeds from a successful verdict for the class-action. The problem I have is that you have to write a letter to bow out from a lawsuit you didn't even ask for. The lawyers also have the right to settle out of court with no approval from the plaintiffs, which they usually do for a fraction of the lawsuit amount so that they can make an easy buck.

    My wife and I went through this with Sears and Roebuck a couple of years ago. A law firm was suing them for a tens of thousands of plaintiffs in regards to there accounting practices for interest on their credit cards. I took the letter and threw it in the trash. Six months later a letter arrived stating that the suit was settled out of court and we were entitled to $15.00 before lawyer fees, processing etc. The check was for $3.50. I'm sure the law firm took home more than that.

  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:25AM (#816616) Homepage Journal
    Windows 98 is $189. You're pricing the braindamaged 'upgrade' version.

    For comparison, I bought Windows 95 on release day for $149, and paid $89 for WfW six months after release. My copy of Office 95 cost me $189 on release, but copies of Office 97 are still running $239 today. I haven't bought, nor do I intend to buy, Win2K, ME, or Office2K, so I can't comment on their prices.
  • California allows you to sue for a lot of things other places won't let you sue for.

    They also have different burden of proofs then other states and provinces.

    Also, the laws regarding lawsuits won't magically change in Texas becausee somebody in California won a frivolous suit that would not be allowed in Texas.

    Having studied civil law in Ontario (in high school no less, ph33r my l33t l4w sk1llZ!), I don't think we could pull off the same sort of lawsuit here.

    Most of the time, I'd make a comment about Ontario being sane about frivolous civil suits, but having paid for at least two copies of Windows I never wanted, I'm going to keep my opinion in reserve this time.

    Oh, IANAL, and IHCL (I Hate Civil Law).
  • This is almost as bad as the old lady who spilled hot coffee on her lap or the asshole woman suing nike for shoelaces coming untied. Too bad the judge didn't call the lady a dumbass for putting hot coffee in her lap and throw the case out of court. That single case opened the door for all these stupid lawsuits. I should sue ford because for 100 years they never put a warning label on the gas pedal.
  • It has forced me to watch my roommate reboot his Win95 machine every 20 minutes .

    On a more serious note. I think it has to an extent. The price for windows has not gone down instead it has gone up, although they say that the ME edition will be $59 or so. The problem is that Windows is making the companies like Dell and Gateway, and all the thousand other little companies that install windows pay lots for the software. This causes the price in computers to go up. A 500 dollar computer could sell for probably 100 less if it was not for the cost of windows. Sure you can say that you could install Linux, but Linux has some hardware issues that makes this not as easy as you think.

    I cannot count the hours of lost work productivity that resulted from rebooting my machine. In 1997 I was down for a WEEK cause my NT workstation (at work) gave me the BSOD. This was when it first was discovered and noone knew what to do, and M$ did not have a cure.

    Although currently M$ is probably the best software on the market, as far as applications, ease of use, etc. I think that mere fact that they released Windows 95 which noone can deny was buggier than hell, they should be held accountable for. I also think that NT 4 is buggier than hell and if it were not for sp 5 or 6 this machine I am useing would be just as worthless. Granted M$ has come a long way and there Win 2000 product is probably a good product, but I no longer trust them. Maybe there penality should be to give free upgrades to 2000 to ANYONE that is still using Window 95, and to sell the upgrades for 98 and NT 4.0 for less than $50. This would allow them to stay together, still make money (not that Billy boy needs it) and make most consumers happier, IMHO!
    I don't want a lot, I just want it all ;-)
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Windows 98 retails for $99.

    Windows 98 upgrade retails for $99. Windows 98 sells for ~$179.
  • You could do it, if you can foot the bill and deal with the support calls from people who don't know what an OS is...

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:30AM (#816626) Homepage
    More explanation on why previous ones were thrown out (since I don't recall this being covered on /. before)...

    The Boston Globe [google.com] says:

    • Microsoft has successfully pointed to a 1977 Supreme Court decision outlawing antitrust claims by indirect purchasers to persuade state judges in Oregon, Hawaii, Nevada, and Iowa to dismiss similar suits.
    The CBS article explained that a bit more:
    • Microsoft attorney Charles B. Casper argued that the company markets its products to thousands of companies who resell them at different prices, adding that the judge would have to weigh each consumer's claim on a case-by-case basis.
    The Illinois Supreme Court decision is here [google.com]. These are the problems with indirect purchases:
    • It was really the initial purchaser who was screwed by the man, so in this case, Dell should be suing Microsoft for reimbursement.
    • The indirect purchaser was indirectly screwed by the man. Dell probably passed on the additional cost to Betty Q. Grandmother.
    • Indirect purchasers were screwed to varying degrees. Some direct purchasers were overcharged but others were not. The direct purchasers that were overcharged had to compete with the ones that weren't, so they had to absorb some of the overcharge instead of passing it on.

    They've proved that Microsoft screwed people and that Microsoft should repay some people X dollars, but they don't how to split up the money. So they need to waste the time of many judges to figure out who gets paid what.

    Apparently, this is the sort of defense that Microsoft will try to use.

  • Nope, never a smoker, hated coming home with all that stink on my clothes. Hard to enjoy a good Paulaner Heffeweizen or Pilsner Urquell in a stench of tobacco fumes. I often eat dinner along with a couple brews at a local pub (which offers 99 different kinds of beer, about 40 on tap, people who have been to Santa Cruz will know of this wonderful place)

    The original point was that these laws aren't necessarily stupid things to make a tiny population of hippies joyful. As much as law can restrict the power of government it can also make us a more civil society (which is sorely needed in densely populated areas like California has). The Class Action, which isn't even a filing, yet, was merely a judge giving permissiont to pursue this avenue of punishing a business, again, to make this a more civil place to live (cheaper software!)

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • Well, yeah, that's the general idea. Punish them by making them give back a certain amount of revenue. It would also set precident. That done they'd have to review their pricing practices more carefully, lest they get hauled into another Class suit.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • Both carbon monoxide and the other byproducts of cigarette smoke are deadly IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITIES. If you smoke several cigarettes every day for several years, yes, it will cause damage to your lungs. If you are constantly being exposed to second hand smoke (like living in the house of a smoker), sure it will cause damage to your lungs. Show me one statistic that indicates that casual occasional exposure to cigarette smoke in public restraunts, bars, etc, are harmful to one's health. California, the People's Republic of Boulder, and all of the others are WAY overreacting.

    The only fault I can see for the tobacco industry was their intentional hacking of cigarettes to make them more addictive. Otherwise, if you choose to use a product that is known to be hazardous to your health and addictive, you get what you deserve. You shouldn't be whining later about it so you can get a few million dollars.


  • by xianzombie ( 123633 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:48AM (#816640)

    How can we ever say how farther computing would be if M$ did not stifle competition?

    This may get flamed but....

    While I do not agree with many of M$'s practices nor do I particularly like there products, without Microsoft, how far would personal computing have evolved?

    M$ did bring PCs more into the mainstream. Unfortunatly they also brought more (l)users in as well, but in doing so, look at the price comparisons (for hardware and such). M$ did make it easy for people of average intelligence and far below to use computers, and thus increased the damand. They were useful in their innoveate and embrace attitude *(unfortunatly that was followed by 'Extinguish')*.

    Do I like m$ products? no

    Do I like their business ethics? no

    Did they help in revolutionizing the computer industry? Yes

    Do I still still think they're guilty? Yes

  • I'm pretty tired of seeing the McDonald's coffee lawsuit bandied around as an example of a frivolous suit. It was anything but. The woman received third degree burns, spent over a week in the hospital, and had to undergo several skin grafts.

    Educate yourself [consumerrights.net]

  • As for Linux to WIndows cost, that's different too. RedHat's cost is mostly, or almost all, in boxes and manuals. Microsoft has to pay a lot of people to write Windows. Totally different expenses there.
    But that's a moot point to consumers.

    I have to argue against your first point, also. There's no functional difference between MS Office and Corel WP Suite for almost all home users. First, factor out what most people don't use (which, unfortunately, counts for most of the bloat), and second, factor out your personal preferences, such as default layout and styles and menu functions. It may be different UI, in some respects, but if that's what you learned on and were acustomed to, you'd be complaining about Office instead of WP.

    Remember, this is about consumers, not big businesses. And even then I'd be willing to bet 90% of the functionality of either package is never used.


  • by Threnody ( 35193 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @07:54AM (#816646) Homepage
    Check out MoralDefense.com [moraldefense.com] for some excellent Objectivist rhetoric.

    I run Linux at home. And my personal boycott against MSFT products has been active since Windows 95. There's no reason to reiterate how much MSFT sucks to the /. community.

    But, I also feel that a boycott should be the extent of my ability to limit Microsoft's power. Only the individual can lash out against a corporation: by not buying a product. The government has no place in this matter.

    If you don't like Windows, be a geek, go to Fry's, and build your own friggin' computer so that Bill never gets his greasy hands on your prized possession. What's the issue?

    Don't invite the government to save "the public" on this one. If you bought a MSFT product, you only hurt yourself. I hardly think that "the public" needs protection from MSFT.

    Even worse with the case of MSFT is that they've actually provided a decent product to fill a market niche (albeit an incredibly large niche). MSFT has been offering a superior consumer product for years at an excellent price. Windows has brought law and order to the consumer computer market and helped to make computers useful for grandma smith and uncle bob. Windows is an excellent product in that regard.

    Even worse, it's obvious that MSFT has had competition through the entire battle. As I recall, AAPL's headquarters are smack-dab in the middle of Silicon Valley; and SUNW's headquarters aren't far down the road. And SGI's and even the now defunct SCO (Tarantella?). There were plenty of choices out there if you really wanted an alternate. But, again: MSFT was providing a product that better suited people's needs at a much better price. Even today one can argue that Windows ME/2000 provides most people with more functionality than they'll ever need.

    If you want to destroy Microsoft, don't waste your time with the government. Hack Eazel [eazel.com], GNOME [gnome.org], KDE [kde.org]; or some other Linux component that threatens the power or Redmond.

  • The cost of software has *NOT* gone down in the past 10 years. Just go out and look at pricing on any of a variety of products.

    The only markets in which software prices have gone down are those which were influenced by competition from Microsoft. NOS, OS, Office productivity, development tools, etc. in other words, the prices went down because Microsoft provided lower cost alternatives!

    The price of Windows 9x has remained consistent with the direction of the market.

    You want to compare apples to apples... Go look at the prices for an upgrade to MacOS. $99... boom, same price, same market, same league.

    You are seriously confused.
  • SO how much money did you make off those pieces of paper? Are you going to bitch and moan when Sun is no longer everywhere? Don't think it will happen? They thought the same thing about Novell.

    Quit your crying and go back to your over paying "certified" tech job.

  • This is almost as bad as the old lady who spilled hot coffee on her lap or the asshole woman suing nike for shoelaces coming untied.

    Well, I'm not familiar with the shoelace lawsuit you reference, but the coffee lawsuit (Liebeck vs. McDonalds) was a lot more justified that many people seem to think. Tahe a look at what the Consumer Attorneys of California have to say [caoc.com] about the case. Another good reference is at http://www.quellerfisher.com/liebeck.html [quellerfisher.com].

    Basically, the woman was awarded $200,000 to cover her medical bills (she suffered third-degree burns, acquired in three seconds), but that amount was reduced to $160,000 because she was deemed to be partially at fault. She was also awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages, because McDonalds' statements showed that they knew they were putting people at risk for severe burns, but continued to serve the coffee at high temperatures. McDonalds was also able to get the punitive damages reduced to $480,000 in appeals court.

    --Phil (I wish more people would research stories like this before spreading them.)
  • Remind me who you are, again?
  • Laws and lawsuits are meant to PROTECT the consumer.

    I completely agree, which is why the McDonald's coffee judgement was not unreasonable.

    How is McD not playing nice by warming its coffee?

    Well, had you followed the case instead of simply scanning the headlines, the coffee in question was hot enough to cause third degree burns. Sure, serving warm coffee is a nice thing to do, but when the coffee is 'warm' enough to make my flesh blister, its perhaps not so nice.


    So in a case where a parent uses a teddy bear to suffocate a newborn, the parent should get off scott free because ITS A TEDDY BEAR FOR GOD'S SAKE!! ....

    In this case, a restaurant was punished because, despite repeated warnings and complaints, they exhibited criminal negligence that threatened the general public with bodily harm. And if McDonald's had not been sued, that particular restaurant would probably still be serving coffee hot enough to kill a small child with.

    So, in this particular case, it appears that justice was served and served well.

  • by barracg8 ( 61682 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2000 @08:31AM (#816670)
    • "GIVEN CALIFORNIA law, this ruling was not unexpected," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan told Reuters.
    He covers up so much by just saying "this ruling".
    Let's expand it for him, from the headline of the story:
    • "GIVEN CALIFORNIA law, charges that [we] harmed consumers through [our] monopolistic practices was not unexpected," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan told Reuters.
    When a company's business model means that this kind of thing is expected, there is something very wrong with the way that company opperates.

    My $0.02


  • Thanks to this woman every cup must have a warning label stating its contents are hot.

    No; thanks to this woman, McDonalds now serves their coffee at a reasonable temperature. The coffee will still burn you if you accidentally spill it on yourself, but it will take about twenty seconds for it to do the damage it did to Liebeck in three seconds. The coffee is also no longer served at a temperature that will scald your mouth if you drink it immediately.

    Firecrackers are not intended to be held in the hand when ignited. Coffee is intended to be ingested, and one ought to be able to reasonably assume that the coffee will not burn you severely enough to require skin grafts.

    --Phil (Read my other post for some informative URLs.)
  • Ah, another carefully reasoned and measured response by an informed slashdot reader. Must be a product of the California school system. Any legal action must be initiated by a plaintiff. In this case, it could be the state Attorney General, or an individual consumer or consumers on behalf of the entire class. Either way, there are named plaintiffs attached to the suit, not "Everyone Who Ever Bought Microsoft Products" vs Microsoft. Thus endeth the lesson, not that you'll likely derive any benefit, as evidenced by your not having learned anything so far in your ignorant existence. Have a lice day.
  • Linus is a person. Microsoft is a corporation.

    see: sarcarm [dictionary.com]. Half of the attacks on Microsoft from people on Slashdot seem to be personal attacks on Bill Gates.

    additionally, you seemed to miss my point (which was 'successful people/companies/etc. keep getting jabbed.. blah blah blah')

    anywho, try not to take things so seriously. slashdot is only as real as irc.

    i've looked at love from both sides now. from win and lose, and still somehow...

  • I know we're not lawyers here but don't you at least watch TV?

    That comment explains where you get your knowledge of the legal system. In class actions, someone is the plaintiff, whether it's 'The People of California' or individual persons. The story should have said who was bringing the suit, since that's an important factor. Maybe you should crack a book and learn something before making yourself an even greater self-embarrassment by posting a bunch of spleen-venting drivel.
  • True, true, true.

    In the early stages of the computer industry, someone was going to get a monopoly. But the market would have opened up, if M$ hadn't used illegal means to maintain monopoly power. Anti-trust law is designed to end the monopoly, and level back out the playing field, when people abuse this kind of power.

    Microsoft are no worse than any other, but if Apple or Sun had gained a monopoly, and used illegal means to maintain it, we should be buggering them up the ass with a broomstick right now.

  • Did Microsoft bring PCs more into the maintstream? Perhaps, but the reason that they were the ones to do so is because they were the only ones who were there. Why was no one else there? Because they had been scared away or driven from the market by Microsoft.

    Did Microsoft make it easy for the average person to use a computer? Probably not. Computers today are hard to use, and it's only massive brainwashing efforts that convince people otherwise. Having watched lots of average people use MSware, I have to conclude that Microsoft products are not easy to use, at least not easy to use to accomplish anything halfway sophisticated.

    Not everything that Microsoft has done is utter crap, but remember that one important reason why nobody has done anything better is that there is nobody else. It's easy to be the best when you're the only game in town. Who is to say that, had there been healthy competition over the past decade, there wouldn't be many more people using computers than there are today, and that these computers wouldn't be more powerful and easy to learn and use?

    Microsoft didn't revolutionize the computer industry. They took what was probably going to happen anyway and monopolized it so that it looked like they were bringing technology to the masses. In reality, I suspect that they have hampered the development of real, consumer-friendly computers that work reliably and allow people to work effectively and efficiently. We'll never know for sure, of course. That's why it is important not to allow these sorts of situations to develop.

  • Merit frequently has nothing to do with these cases. The target will settle just to avoid the possibility of a runaway jury socking it with an enormous award, or to avoid a protracted, debilitating legal battle. Microsoft has the resources to fight, so maybe they won't cave in, but many do.
  • I thought one of the points of the whole anti-trust thing was that Microsoft was giving away software like IE (as opposed to selling it)...and now people are complaining that their prices are too high? Make up your minds, people.

  • Given the appalling ignorance regarding computers the populace, I don't see how any of them are harmed.

    Most of them probably don't know HOW they were harmed, but that doesn't mean that they weren't.

    100 years ago people didn't "KNOW" that cigarettes were harming them, but they were.

  • It's actually worse than you think. Yes you're a party to a lawsuit even if you don't want to be.

    The first time I got a letter like this (about a Sprint lawsuit) I did some investigation. By the time you get the letter telling you you're a party, the defendent has negotiated a settlement. So unfortunately you don't help the defendent by opting _not_ to be a party! The reason is that by agreeing (after the fact) you at least close the issue off. If you decide not to participate the company has to worry that you might sue them individually.

    This doesn't seem like a big deal with a $3.50 refund, but in fact this is what screwed Dow Corning: they agreed to the fake science of the trial sharks just to get the issue behind them, and then some opportunists "opted out" and hit them up again.

    delete class action_lawyers *all;
  • Oh please. I find the smell of cigarette smoke detrimental to my dining experience (turns my stomach actually). Why should I have to deal with it in my dinner experience? It's not sanitary either. The carbon monoxide addressed as part of the auto pollution, not from cigarette smoke. If you go out to bars more than twice a week, even for just an hour or two, that can be hazardous if done on a regular basis. Please don't fight me on tobacco smoke. It's bad for you. Accept it.
  • Interesting. Tell me about your mother.
  • Aaah... Explains a lot.
  • Exactly. There should be a warning label on the coffe:

    "Only a low grade moron would put this between her legs and then remove the lid in a moving vehicle."


    hawk, esq., tired of people defending this frivolosu suit
  • While I do not agree with many of M$'s practices nor do I particularly like there products, without Microsoft, how far would personal computing have evolved?

    Hard to tell. They left quite a trail of wrecked competitors.

    One thing that Microsoft definitely influenced though ... Unlike the Apple II and most other hobby computers, DOS and Windows never came with an assembler, compiler, or interpreter. The result was an entire generation of people of programming-illerate users whose only idea of "using a computer" was running applications. I was able to "show my mom what programming is" on my Apple II, but I would be hard pressed to do the same on my PC. I spent a great deal of effort when I was a windows user in just keeping a working development environment on my PC. With Linux, the working development environment is right there, so if I need to write a quick & dirty program, I can do it in a few seconds, as opposed to a few hours using the Microsoft-based development tools.

    M$ did bring PCs more into the mainstream.

    One positive aspect of the Microsoft experience was that the dominance of the single Microsoft operating system led to the commodity PC -- and is the reason why you can go to a computer store, pick up a $400.00 PC, and install a real operating system on it. Without the Windows monopoly dictating hardware design, it is more than likely that hardware vendors would have continued to design and build incompatable hardware, which would be more expensive. The PC hardware model might suck, but at least it sucks consistantly and uniformly. Hardware compatability was the key point behind IBM's 40 year S/360 S/370 S/390 ESA mainframe hardware reign. (And I'd take the S370 architecture over the PC architecture in a heartbeat.)
  • I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice on this or any other matter, see a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.

    First of all, class actuion suits usually do work out the way you describe. The only clear example I can come up with is the Iomega suit, in which the class members actually got what they were supposed to get in the first place (their rebate and accessories) plus an extra disk.

    The usual outcome is that the attorneys get well paid, and the calss gets almost nothing. On the other hand, part of this is because the underlying claims tend to be close to worthless--but the defendants remain better off offering a coupon or a few bucks than paying for the litigation. This, however, *is* what drives the typical low payments from the class-action mills--it's not compensation, which really wasn't due, but rather go-away money.

    The inability to collect if you opt out makes perfect sense--the law generally only lets you have one bite at the apple.

    However, it is not quite true that the lawyers can settle without the consent of plaintiffs. Class members *are* entitled to object to the settlement, and often d. This is becoming more common due to partial reforms. It used to be that the first to file got to keep the suit. Today, larger class members are given substantial input in the choice of attorneys.

    I seriously doubt that this will be a typical class action. The liability isn't *as* clear as Iomega's (there was no legitimate defense in that case; the behavior was either inept or deliberate fraud), because the damages *are* real and, within reason, quantifiable. However, in the case of windows, they're no more than $50 (judging by the figures in the Findings of Fact).

    One last thing: lawyers in class actions do not get 30%. Rather, they petition the court to approve fees based on teh amount of work done. Frequently this is worked out ahead of tiime with the defendant in a settlments, but judges are getting better (but still have a long ways to go) at rejecting these (e.g., the tobacco settlements. Those fees were so clearly unreasonable that they should have been disbarred for accepting them).

    hawk, esq.
  • OK, granted, the reason class-action suits *happen* is that the lawyers get money.

    But there's a good reason for them to happen *economically* --- and it's largely to benefit the entity being sued, and the state.

    Going to court is expensive --- each individual case has costs associated with it: hiring a lawyer, docket fees, etc. Allowing *each individual consumer of a product* to sue leads to enormous court costs --- not only does every consumer have to hire their own lawyer, etc., but the defendant company has to hire one for each case, and the court system has to hold all of the cases ...

    It is more efficient and cheaper, then, to have *one* case representing *all of the potential lawsuits*; if the goal of the system is economic efficiency, that's the way to go. (If the goal is justice, maybe not; but that's a different religious flame war ...)
    • what he *said* does not in any way imply any-thing bad.
    Well, yeah, but it depends on what context you read it in. In the closed context of 'we just lost an anti-trust trial', then yeah, in such a litigeous environment, it is not surprising that a class action law suit occurs.

    But in a broarder context, the fact that a commpany is openly unsurprised about the fact that millions of their customers feel that they are being ripped off is a very sorry state of affairs.

    • given the FoF by Jackson, which MS officially doesn't agree with
    You have a monopoly.
    You abuse monopoly power to destroy competition.
    You rip off your customers.
    Sue me, bitches.

    What is my point in that last rant? Judge Jackson has heard all the evidence and submitted a FoF. This is the findings of a US federal court, and is fact in the eyes of US law. The appeals court is not meant to hold a retrial: the appeal is only against his application of the law. The facts stand. The only circumstance in which the appeals courts can overturn his FoF is to label them as conclusions that no-one of sound mind could reach. I.e., they have to declare that Judge Jackson is actually totally insane. :-) Unlikely.

    Who gives a damn if MS 'agree' with the FoF or not? Fuck 'em - it is now fact.

    • its alleged monopolistic practices
    In a similar vein, this is taken from the headline of the story. Surely, MSNBC, that should read "its monopolistic practices". Innocent until proven guilty. Once found guilty by a court of law, guilty untill proven innocent. MS has a monopoly, and has abused it. It is now up to them to demonstrate otherwise.


  • Actually, I both followed this story in rapt fascination when it was happening, and have a rather large library of literature at my disposal about the case.

    In reality, it was a seriously frivilous lawsuite gone badly awry. McD's lawyer was inept, and this poor imbeciles ambulance chaser was on the ball.

    She suffered 1 approximately DIME SIZED spot of 3rd degree burn, and there's absolutely no way to prove how long the hot coffee was on her to cause said DIME SIZED spot of burn. The remaining burn was scattered burns "akin to a sunburn" according to the observing doctor.

    The statement that McD's "showed that they knew they were putting people at risk" is also taken slightly out of context. When one of the witnesses for McD's was asked "Where you aware that the coffee might have been hot enough to burn patrons", the employee respondes (exact quote)..."It's coffee...". When the lawyer demanded clarification, the employee said "Yes, coffee is hot, if it were cold, it would have been returned". Yes, McD's knew the coffee was hot, the same way us thinking folks know it's hot...that's the way it works. Nobody sues Dow Corning (the makers of my heating elements on my stove) for making something they KNOW could burn people. Both are hot by design.

    The fact is, that lawsuit is a beautiful example of all that's wrong with out litigous society.
  • If the coffee is too hot. Don't bathe in it.

    Lets think about this, the coffee being served was hot enought to cause third degree burns with absolutely no warning. Further, people were complaining that the coffee was too hot. In a case like that, it is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured. And if you think my point about a small child dying is so incredible, think about it for a second. I can't imagine a 12 oz cup of coffee hot enough to cause third degree burns to an adult would have a very good effect if accidentally dropped on an infant. That scenario is entirely possible and given enough time and given the restaruants prediliction for ignoring complaints, the scenario even becomes probable if the practice is not stopped by means of a lawsuit.

    The teddy bear analogy is pointless and comparing Apples and Oranges.

    The teddy bear analogy was not pointless, nor was it comparing apples to oranges. The fact is that one of your points (not your only point) was that the lawsuit was ridiculous simply because it dealt with coffee. By taking your words and putting them in a different scenario, it shows the silliness of that line of reasoning.

    You have an obsession with death:

    Hmm. I've been accused of that before. But honestly, ad hominem attacks do not increase the esteem with which I hold your debating skills. What possible bearing could an alleged obsession with death of mine have on the discussion?



  • If the purpose of the suit is to punish the company then it makes sense that the people who are able to inflict punishment actually get the money. I of course have no capabality to punish MS but if I get together with a million other people we can "hire" a lawyer who just may be able to punish them. It costs me nothing and requires no effort on my part, the lawyer does all the work and should get all the money. Like I said the object is not to get compensation it's to punish the offender by making them shell out big bucks.
    Having said all this I would much prefer that the principles of the corporation get tried in both civil and criminal courts and if found guilty actually go to jail. A little personal responsibility would go a long way towards making more ethical corporations.

    A Dick and a Bush .. You know somebody's gonna get screwed.

  • Well, that would be an incorrect restructuring of my argument. Linux is mostly architecture independent, unlike windows, so even had there been no windows, and no standardized PC hardware, that wouldn't preclude a standardized operating system like Linux.

    My argument was that Microsoft was largely responsible for the existance of cheap, commodity hardware. Quite a different argument.

    I'm not having trouble dealing with anything ...
  • Very clever! You have convinced me.

    Hurrah! I've won the argument. Hmm. Perhaps not. I think I detect sarcasm.

    Next time my coffee is not 98.6 degrees F, I will sue the restaurant. Because IF it is hotter than that I could possibly burn myself.

    Well, we're not speaking of coffee that is merely warmer than 98.6 Farenheight. We're speaking of coffee that is hot enough to cause third degree burns. For comparrison, I keep my hot water heater at home around 120 Farenheight and the water is not hot enough to cause second degree burns. It might be hot enough to cause first degree burns if I soaked in it long enough.

    Let's look at the hard facts of the case ( some of which were taken from here [consumerrights.net] and some of which were taken from here [kentlaw.edu] ).

    1. McDonald's policy at the time was to server coffee at between 160 and 180 degrees, 20 degrees higher than the industry standard
    2. The coffee in question was likely to have been hotter than 180 degrees
    3. The accident caused third-degree burns on more than 6 percent of the plaintiff's body
    4. The burns were so extensive as to require skin grafs and a week long stay in the hospital
    5. The plaitiff originally requested reimbursement for actual medical expenses of $11k and only spoke to a lawyer when McDonald's only counter-offered $800
    6. McDonald's had already ignored more than 700 similar claims of coffee burns
    7. McDonald's refused a third party mediator's reccomendation to settle out of court for $225k
    8. McDonald's lied about the over 700 prior incidents in court
    9. The Jury tied the 'extravagent' punitive damages to their profit on coffee. based on McDonald's annual profits of more than $1 billion annually, and more than $1.3 million gross daily coffee sales, the jury levied two days of coffee sales receipts as punitive damages for a punitive damage award of $2.7 million The plaitiff had never asked for that exhorbitant sum
    10. The judge knocked the actual award down to somewhere around $400k
    Here's an idea using my "keen sense (use) of logic and reason", next time you're faced with the horrendous beast of boiling coffee that is too hot to drink...go to the soda machine...hit the little ice button...put an ice cube in the drink.

    Personally I don't think I should have to risk third degree burns to myself or the people around me when I go get a cup of joe. It would be different if (a) this were an isolated incident or (b) this were the first incident. As it stands, I don't think causing over 700 documented injuries (some of which were to children) due to burns is indicative of an eye to public safety. I think ignoring that number of injuries does border on being criminally negligent.

    At no time have you proved your point

    Considering that you have yet to offer an argument that is anything other than an appeal to emotion or an ad hominem attack, I'm not altogether concerned whether you agree with me or not.

    Lose the attitude and grow up.

    Coming from a person that has yet to offer anything even approaching a reasonable argument, I find the request that I grow up to be fairly amusing.

    have a day.

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks