You will not ever pay us money from your pocket beyond the initial retainer of $1, which confirms that you are a client and we are your lawyers. Beyond that, we're working on contingency. We'll take our fee as a share of the money we get you. There is NO scenario where you owe us money in the end. This FAQ is not, however, a substitute for reading and understanding our fee arrangement, which is clearly explained with examples in our fee agreement.
Why would I sign up for this?
There are good reasons to sign up: politics, money, and peace. (1) You can be part of an important case to hold Google accountable and put companies on notice that people do care. (2) You're paying us nothing except a contingent fee from your recovery, and you might get $5,000 (more likely some portion of that).
What's the background on this lawsuit?
Google recently agreed to stop intercepting emails sent to Gmail users for advertising purposes as part of Matera v. Google, a class action settlement that Gallo LLP and its co-counsel achieved. See gmailsettlement.com or this article. Matera was limited to injunctive and declaratory relief because the court previously found that monetary damages claims raise individualized questions of consent. To ensure we overcome this hurdle, we plan to pursue our clients’ claims on a mass action (rather than class action) basis, although we believe certain issues can be addressed on a classwide basis.
In 2016, we litigated numerous damages claims againnst Google on behalf of student users of Google Apps for Education, alleging privacy violations in Corley v. Google. After some litigation, those were settled that year.
What would I stand to gain by participating?
Pride in asserting your legal rights, the satisfaction of helping yourself and others, and money. CIPA gives a court the power to award $5,000 for violations.
What is your fee?
In some cases we charge a small up front retainer to establish the attorney-client relationship. Our fee will be the greater of 40% of the total recovery or the portion of the judgment or settlement designated as fees (a court may order Google to pay our fees, so you may not even have to pay a contingency fee from your recovery). Our out-of-pocket costs will be charged against your recovery in addition to our fee. Generally, those are not big in cases like this one because most of them will be shared among a large group of clients. Also, Google may be ordered to pay those, or most of them. Read our fee agreement carefully before signing, to understand exactly how it works. This FAQ is not a substitute for reading our fee agreement and does not replace or override it. But, again, there is NO scenario where you wind up owing us money.
How long will this take?
Cases like this occasionally settle within a few months of filing, but more often take one to three years, and sometimes significantly longer. Google has advised us that it wants to fight about this one, so it'll likely take a while.
Why are you bringing this case?
Gallo LLP files lawsuits that help our clients, that are just, and that better our society and communities. Ideally, we send a message to Corporate America that it should do the right thing, and respect the law and individuals' rights. Of course, yes, we do hope to get you money and to make a profit ourselves in the process by charging you a contingency fee—only by making a profit can we stay in business and bring the next meaningful case. To that end, we may do millions of dollars of work based on our belief that non-Gmail email account users have righteous claims under the California Invasion of Privacy Act.
If I sign-up, what will I have to do?
We may have thousands of clients. But only a portion of them are likely to do any more than answer a few questions in writing and provide us with their documents (here, primarily a sample email or emails from your account). A client may have his or her deposition taken. In this case, a deposition probably would mean swearing to tell the truth, showing up at an office building near you, and having a Google lawyer ask you questions for about an hour (our estimate). You'll also spend an hour or so preparing for those questions. Considering that you could get thousands of dollars from the case and make an important social/political/legal point about privacy in the process, it seems well worth your while to take the small chance you'll have to spend those few hours. Answering additional questions and providing documents also may take you a little time.
Only about 2% of cases actually go to trial these days. In a mass case like this one that probably means there's a 2% chance that 5 or 10 of the thousands of clients we hope to represent will go to trial. There will almost always be the chance to settle before trial if you wish to. Someone who goes to trial would have to take a week or two of preparation and trial time.
Where will the suit be filed?
The SF Bay area, where Google lives.
Am I free to end my association with this lawsuit at any time?
You can fire us at any time, for any reason or none. But you will have a lawsuit on file. Realistically, you can always settle it, but you may get little or nothing if you are desperate to get out. Still, you can almost always dismiss your case---you just need to instruct us to do so.
Does it matter what sample email I provide you?
Yes. Although this case is about privacy, we suggest that you choose, as your exemplar email, an email that you would not mind others reading, since it will be used in the litigation and may become a public document. Also, to make things simpler, choose an email that was sent to just one person. Make sure that the email was received by a @gmail.com email address and (2) was sent no later than September of 2017.
I believe in this. How can I support this effort?
Thanks. Please email, tweet, and otherwise notify everybody you know who never used Gmail but sent emails to Gmail users. Let them know you've joined and support this case, and send them to https://emailprivacyclaims.leverage.law. And "like" Gallo LLP on Facebook.
Do you have your facts right?
We've reviewd the public record and more than 130,000 highly sensitive documents from Google. We believe the public record firmly supports the allegations we're making. If the facts you give us about you are accurate, we're sure there's probable cause to prosecute your claims, and we're confident Google will wind up owing you money. Google's motion to dismiss cases like this one consistently have been denied.
Is this a class action lawsuit?
We intend to pursue this on both a class and mass basis. That means we individually represent you and can get you an individual settlement. Class actions generally get worse outcomes for clients but are very useful in cases involving largely identical small claims. Here, we're using technology (this website, powered by Leverage) as a technological alternative to class certification. This approach allows us to effectively manage thousands of clients with largely identical cases and seek a better than class action recovery. At the same time, we believe that a parallel class action will enable us to obtain certain rulings that will benefit all our clients. We have filed a class action, and believe it will, at a minimum, help resolve certain issues for everyone's benefit.
How do I know I can trust a lawyer I hired over the internet?
We're fraud lawyers, so we encourage you to be careful. Review our website at Gallo.law. Google us. Don't miss our reviews on AVVO.com, our ratings on Martindale.com, or the information on the California State Bar website, And remember: You'll never pay us a dime from your pocket. We'll take a share of what we get you, and we'll advance all the costs, and we'll do all the work.