Google poised to seek venue transfer in teen's class action

By Bethany Krajelis | Jan 22, 2013

A federal judge has granted Google Inc.’s request to file a motion to transfer venues in a Madison County class action suit.

Brought in November by A.K., the next of friend to 16-year-old J.K, the suit accuses Google of intercepting and using Gmail subscribers’ emails to generate advertising revenue in violation of state and federal privacy laws.

Google and J.K.’s attorneys on Friday filed a consent motion regarding sequencing of initial motion practice, asking the federal court to allow motion practice on the transfer request before any other motions.

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy on Tuesday granted the motion.

In the consent motion, Google claims that as a Gmail user, J.K. is bound by the company’s terms of service, which includes a clause on venue that requires claims to be brought in Santa Clara County, Calif.

The plaintiff, according to the motion, “intends to object to any such transfer on the grounds that, inter alia, Plaintiff J.K., as a minor, did not and could not consent to a venue selection clause in Google’s Terms of Service.”

The motion asserts that “briefing the issues of transfer first would promote efficiency and the interests of justice.”

Google also noted in the motion that it intends to move to dismiss the suit on various grounds under Rule 12 (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which focuses on failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

If the consent motion was granted, Google stated in last week’s filing that it would bring its transfer request on or before Feb. 12 and wouldn’t file a motion for dismissal until 45 days later after its transfer request was resolved.

Google last month was given an extension until Feb. 12 to respond to the complaint.

The consent motion was submitted by Google attorneys Michael Hermann and Charles Swartwout of Boyle Brasher in Belleville and the plaintiff’s attorneys, Thomas Rosenfeld and Mark Goldenberg of Goldenberg,  Heller, Antognoli & Rowland in Edwardsville.

The motion also lists California attorneys Michael Rhodes and Whitty Somvichian as pro hac vice for Google.

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