Perkins v. Linkedin Corp., Case No.: 13–CV–04303–LHK

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
Citation53 F.Supp.3d 1190
Decision Date12 June 2014
Docket NumberCase No.: 13–CV–04303–LHK
PartiesPaul Perkins, et. al., Plaintiffs, v. LinkedIn Corporation, Defendant.

53 F.Supp.3d 1190

Paul Perkins, et. al., Plaintiffs
LinkedIn Corporation, Defendant.

Case No.: 13–CV–04303–LHK

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division.

Signed June 12, 2014

53 F.Supp.3d 1195

Larry Craig Russ, Dorian Seawind Berger, Russ, August, and Kabat, Daniel Paul Hipskind, Irell And Manella LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiffs.

Jerome Cary Roth, Rosemarie Theresa Ring, Esq., Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, San Francisco, CA, for Defendant.


LUCY H. KOH, United States District Judge

Paul Perkins, Pennie Sempell, Ann Brandwein, Erin Eggers, Clare Connaughton, Jake Kushner, Natalie Richstone, Nicole Crosby, and Leslie Wall, on behalf of themselves and a putative class (“Plaintiffs”), bring the instant action against LinkedIn Corporation (“Defendant” or “LinkedIn”).See ECF No. 7. The gravamen of Plaintiffs' complaint is that Defendant, the operator of a popular social networking website, violated several state and federal laws by harvesting email addresses from the contact lists of email accounts associated with Plaintiffs' LinkedIn accounts and by sending repeated invitations to join LinkedIn to the harvested email addresses. See id. ¶ 2. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the operative complaint, the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). See ECF No. 17. The Motion is fully briefed, see ECF Nos. 24, 30, and the Court held a hearing on the Motion, see ECF No. 44 (“Tr.”). Having considered the briefing, applicable law, and the oral arguments presented at the hearing, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion. The Court also grants Plaintiffs leave to amend the FAC to cure deficiencies identified in this Order.


A. Factual Allegations

LinkedIn is a social networking website geared toward professional networking with more than 200 million users. ECF No. 7 ¶¶ 22–23. Users, who maintain resume-like profiles, utilize LinkedIn to view each other's profiles and to exchange messages. This case centers around one portion of the process that a user must complete to sign up for a LinkedIn account. Specifically, Plaintiffs, nine LinkedIn users who seek to represent a nationwide class of LinkedIn users, allege that during the sign-up process, Defendant harvests the email addresses of Plaintiffs' contacts.

53 F.Supp.3d 1196

The Court begins by describing the sign-up process that is challenged. The Court then turns to the internal policies that LinkedIn allegedly violates through this sign-up process and user complaints about the process. The Court then concludes this section with a description of the harm that the challenged process allegedly inflicts on Plaintiffs.

When a new member signs up for LinkedIn, the website prompts her to provide her first name, last name, email address, and a password. Id., Fig. 1 (which is below). Below the prompts for this information is a button titled “Join LinkedIn,” adjacent to which is an asterisk. Id. The asterisk points to a line at the bottom of a page that states that “[b]y joining LinkedIn, you agree to LinkedIn's User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.” Id. ¶ 26.

After a user clicks the “Join LinkedIn” button, she is directed to a second page, which states “let's start creating your professional profile.” Id., Fig. 2 (which is below). This page asks the user to provide LinkedIn with her country of residence, ZIP code, employment status, job title, and industry. Id. Below these fields is a button titled “Create my profile.” Id.

A user who clicks the “Create my profile” button is directed to a page that states “Grow your network on LinkedIn.” Id., Fig. 3 (which is below). On this page, the user is told to “Get started by adding your email address,” under which the field

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for “Your email” is pre-populated with the user's email address, which the user already provided to LinkedIn on the first screen, which is Figure 1. Id. ¶ 30. The “Grow your network on LinkedIn” page has a button for “Continue” under the pre-populated email field. Id., Fig. 3 (which is below). Under the “Continue” button is a statement that reads “We will not store your password or email anyone without your permission.” Id. Further, under that statement is an option to “Skip this step.” Id.

A user who clicks “Continue” and who used an email address from Google's Gmail system is led to a screen from Google Accounts.1 See id., Fig. 4 (which is below). This page states that “ is asking for some information from your Google Account” and then lists the user's email address. Id. The page then contains two bullet points. The first bullet point states “Email address” and contains the email address of the user. Id. The second bullet point states “Google Contacts.” Id. The user then has the option of choosing between “Allow” and “No thanks,” and the buttons for each are equally sized and are equally prominent. Id.

53 F.Supp.3d 1198

A user who chooses “Allow” then proceeds to a screen titled “Connect with people you know on LinkedIn.”2 See ECF No. 18–2, Ex. F (which is labeled as Figure 5 below). This page contains a list of the users' contacts who are already on LinkedIn titled “people you know on LinkedIn.” Id. LinkedIn provides this list by matching the users' contacts' email addresses, which LinkedIn has collected from Google, against LinkedIn's own membership database, which contains email addresses that LinkedIn users utilized to register for LinkedIn accounts. The page contains images and job titles of email contacts of the user who have a LinkedIn account, with check boxes next to their names. Id. The boxes are all checked by default. Id. The user can then choose between two options: “Add Connection(s)” or “Skip this step.” Id.

After the page containing contacts who already have a LinkedIn account, the user is directed to a page titled “Why not invite

53 F.Supp.3d 1199

some people?”3 Id. , Fig. 5 (which is labeled as Figure 6 below). Below the heading on this page is the following statement: “Stay in touch with your contacts who aren't on LinkedIn yet. Invite them to connect with you.” Id. Below that statement is a list of the user's email contacts (names and email addresses) who are not already registered on LinkedIn. Id. There is a checkbox next to each, and the “Select All” box is checked by default. Id. While only the first ten appear, there is a scroll bar, indicating that additional entries lay below. Id. Furthermore, next to the “Select All” box is a statement of the total number of contacts selected. Id. The screenshot in the FAC, for example, states “1132 Selected.” Id. At the bottom of the page, the user could choose between “Add to Network” or “Skip this step.” Id.

If a user chooses the “Add to Network” option, LinkedIn sends an email to all of the email addresses affiliated with the checked boxes. Id. ¶ 44. The emails, to which Plaintiffs refer in the FAC as “endorsement emails,” come from the user's name via LinkedIn and contain the following text: “I'd like to add you to my professional network.” Id. , Fig. 7 (which is below).4 This text is followed by a signature line that contains the LinkedIn user's name. Id. Below this is a button that says “Accept.” Id. If one week after receiving an endorsement email, the recipient has not joined LinkedIn, LinkedIn sends a follow-up email with the same message. Id. ¶ 46. If after a second week, the recipient of the endorsement email still has not

53 F.Supp.3d 1200

joined LinkedIn, LinkedIn sends a third email with the same message. Id. In the FAC, Plaintiffs alleged that “[e]ach of the reminder emails contain the LinkedIn member's name and likeness so as to give the recipient the impression that the LinkedIn member is endorsing LinkedIn and asking the recipient to join LinkedIn's social network.” Id. ¶ 41. However, at the hearing on the instant Motion, Plaintiffs clarified that only users' names—not likenesses—appeared in the endorsement emails. Tr. 26:13–14.

Plaintiffs allege that once this process has been set into motion, it is nearly impossible to stop LinkedIn from sending the reminder endorsement emails. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that “[t]he only way a LinkedIn user can stop the two follow-up endorsement emails (assuming the user found out about the initial emails in the first place) from going out to the email addresses harvested from that user's external email account is for the user to individually open up each invitation from within his or her LinkedIn account (which LinkedIn has intentionally made difficult to find within the user's account) and click a button that allows the user to withdraw that single invitation.” Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiffs allege that there is no mechanism by which users can withdraw all endorsement emails at once. Id. Accordingly, Plaintiffs allege that it would take hours to prevent LinkedIn from sending the repeated endorsement emails to the hundreds or thousands of contacts a user may...

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2 cases
  • Perkins v. Linkedin Corp.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • June 12, 2014
    ...53 F.Supp.3d 1190Paul Perkins, et. al., Plaintiffs,v.LinkedIn Corporation, Defendant.Case No.: 13–CV–04303–LHKUnited States District Court, N.D. California,San Jose Division.Signed June 12, [53 F.Supp.3d 1195]Larry Craig Russ, Dorian Seawind Berger, Russ, August, and Kabat, Daniel Paul Hips......
  • Friends of Animals v. Sparks, CV 15–59–BLG–SPW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Montana)
    • July 29, 2016
    ...The Court takes judicial notice of BLM's public website. Fed. R. Evid. 201(b),(c); see also Perkins v. LinkedIn Corp., 53 F.Supp.3d 1190, 1204 (N.D. Cal....

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