October 15th, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
Fresh off settlement of Bragg v. Linden Lab, Marc Bragg, as recently-reinstated Second Life avatar ‘Marc Woebegone,’ has posted to his blog seeking evidence of land bot abuse in Second Life for a potential class action lawsuit. Landbots are automated programs that operate within Second Life to purchase land which has been accidentally mispriced at less than its fair market value.
I’ll say that again, and this time, read it slowly and just let the sublime irony wash over you: Marc Bragg is collecting evidence of Second Life users taking advantage of pricing errors to buy virtual land at less than market value so he can sue them. This is so rich it makes my teeth hurt.
Though a suit by landowners against landbot users is not completely unreasonable, the differences in proof necessary for each individual defrauded by a landbot user seem to make class certification problematic. If the suit ends up in Federal Court — and even if it is not filed there, removal is likely — then Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 will govern:
One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
In addition, a class will only be maintained when:
…[t]he court finds that the questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.
That last one is a potential sticking point here because each potential claim seems to require different evidence, and each will be lodged against one of any number of different defendants — unlike typical class actions involving, for example, a group of diners who all get sick from eating the same thing at the same restaurant, or a group of consumers who were all defrauded the same way by the same company’s false advertising.
Bragg presumably intends to target one or more landbot users and conceivably (given that he says he seeks injunctive relief) Second Life creator Linden Lab. At this point, no defendants are named.
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