By Wendy Davis of online media daily:
T-Mobile’s Sidekick data loss isn’t just a messy public relations problem. The debacle also could leave the company with some big legal bills.
This week, T-Mobile was hit with two separate class-action lawsuits alleging that the company misled consumers into believing that their data was more secure than was the case. “One of the major selling points of Sidekicks was that users always had access to their personal data, and that such data would and could be properly entrusted to defendants to maintain and retain, safely, securely and always available,” Sidekick user Maureen Thompson alleges in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in San Jose, Calif.
T-Mobile said Saturday that photos, contacts and other data that wasn’t currently on Sidekick devices had most likely been lost due to a server failure at Microsoft subsidiary Danger, which powers data services on the Sidekick.
Since then, however, the company has said that some users’ data might still be recoverable. T-Mobile also reportedly said it would issue $100 credits to some users who suffered data losses.
Thompson, a resident of Snellville, Georgia, alleges in her lawsuit that she “suffered a complete and catastrophic loss of all data” including appointments and contacts. She also alleges that her daughter, an aspiring model and singer-songwriter, lost photos and lyrics she wrote that she had stored on the device.
Thompson’s lawyer, Michael Aschenbrener of KamberEdelson, says that Thompson and her daughter chose the Sidekick specifically because of its promised backup capabilities. “They used the Sidekick to avoid the very scenario that occurred,” he said.
The other lawsuit was filed in Washington state court by Sidekick user Oren Rosenthal. “T-Mobile’s advertising did not disclose that T-Mobile had no backup or other service or device to ensure that the customer’s stored data could be retrieved if there was a failure,” Rosenthal alleged in court papers.
Both complaints also allege that T-Mobile was negligent for not preserving Sidekick data.
Aschenbrener said that the company’s offer of $100 is “a step in the right direction” but that T-Mobile should do more to compensate consumers.
“Users should certainly be provided with an easy means to get a replacement device,” Aschenbrener said. He added that T-Mobile, Microsoft and Danger should “commit legally to the steps they will take to protect Sidekick users’ data in the future.”
Rosenthal’s lawyer, David Breskin of Breskin Johnson Townsend, said he anticipated that monetary damages for Sidekick users could range “anywhere from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.”
T-Mobile declined to comment on the litigation. “We are focused on helping our Sidekick customers recover from this recent service disruption and are continuing to support Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to address and resolve the Danger platform issues,” the company said in a statement.