Microsoft will have to face class action claims surrounding allegations of a design flaw in its Xbox 360, after the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle overturned a ruling made by a lower court judge three years ago.
An unknown number of Xbox 360 owners insist that a design defect in the console's disc drive can cause damage to game discs from even minor vibrations. They assert that this can result in the discs becoming scratched - and ultimately damaged to the point that they no longer function - 'even under normal playing conditions'.
However, as Reuters reports, when the claimants attempted to present unified legal action against Microsoft in 2012, US District Judge Ricardo Martinez dismissed the class action claims, based upon a 2009 ruling which had itself been reversed in 2010. 9th Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson determined yesterday that Martinez had failed to consider this reversal when basing his judgement upon the 2009 ruling.
"Plaintiff's breach of express warranty claim presents a common factual question - is there a defect? - and a common mixed question of law and fact - does that defect breach the express warranty?" Judge Rawlinson wrote. "The district court erred in finding that individual issues of causation predominate over these common questions."
Following Rawlinson's ruling, the 9th Circuit returned the case to Judge Martinez, and as a result, Microsoft will now have to face the class action claims as presented to the court.
The high costs of pursuing legal action against a big corporation are often prohibitive for individuals to pursue alone, so class action lawsuits are hugely undesirable for a company like Microsoft.
But the company is confident about its chances. "We've won in the lower court previously, and believe the facts are on our side," a Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday.