Vista Capable suit loses class-action status

A U.S. District Judge has reversed her decision to give the "Windows Vista Capable" lawsuit class-action status, TechFlash reports. In April 2007, Dianne L. Kelley of Camano Island sued Microsoft because "Vista Capable" labels showed up on PCs without enough graphics horsepower to run Vista Home Premium with the Aero graphics interface—a deceptive bait-and-switch tactic, Kelley alleged.

The plaintiff also claimed that tactic artificially inflated demand for such PCs, thereby raising the prices of machines that could run Vista Home Premium with all the bells and whistles. That claim led U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman to grant the case class-action status on February 22, 2008, potentially paving the way for mass compensation from Microsoft.

According to the ruling (PDF) kindly hosted by TechFlash, however, Judge Pechman ended up removing the class-action status after the plaintiff failed to give evidence of the price inflation claim. Here's an excerpt:

At this juncture, the Court believes the most appropriate remedy for Plaintiffs' failure to present evidence suggesting class-wide causation is decertification. Absent evidence of class-wide price inflation, Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that common questions predominate over individual considerations. . . . Pursuing their claims individually, Plaintiffs are not bound by the price inflation theory of causation. While Defendant has demonstrated the absence of evidence demonstrating class-wide causation, they have not demonstrated that no material issue of fact exists for Plaintiffs' individual claims.

TechFlash points out that this latest decision gives the case considerably less importance, since other individuals probably won't go out and sue Microsoft over the same allegations.

Microsoft isn't out of the woods yet, though—Judge Pechman also wrote, "Microsoft's internal communications raise a serious question about whether customers were likely to be deceived by the [Windows Vista Capable] campaign." TechFlash says that's a direct reference to an internal Microsoft e-mail where Windows head Jim Allchin said, "I believe we are going to be misleading customers with the Capable Program."

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