Microsoft fails to halt class action lawsuit alleging Xbox 360 design flaw

Microsoft will have to face a class action lawsuit being brought against it by owners of its Xbox 360, who allege that a known design defect in the console's disc drive can cause damage to game discs from even minor vibrations. Users claim that this damage scratches the discs, often to the point that they no longer work, 'even under normal playing conditions'.

Microsoft has been attempting to undermine the case for class action for some time - the company would much prefer claimants to present their cases individually than as a united force, but the latest court decision means that it has failed to do so again.

There's a complicated history behind the efforts of the console owners to succeed in their bid to pursue a class action suit. Here's how we explained it back in March, when Microsoft lost its last attempt to quash the class-action suit:

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.

As Ars Technica reports, Microsoft's latest petition for the case to be reheard in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals with a larger panel of judges has been rejected by that court, which means that the class action suit can now proceed.

Back in 2008, a Microsoft program manager, Hiroo Umeno, indicated that the company was aware of the damage that the Xbox 360's drive caused to game discs, according to unsealed court documents. He said that it was "information that we as a team, optical disc drive team, knew about." By the middle of that year, Microsoft had received around 55,000 complaints related to damaged 360 discs.

Source: 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) via Ars Technica

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