A federal judge has found that Zynga could be responsible for allegedly misleading business offers marketed to players of its popular Facebook games, setting the stage for a class-action lawsuit against the San Francisco-based company to move ahead.
The plaintiff in the case, Rebecca Swift, is one among the sad legions of gamers who have grown addicted at some point to Zynga's simple games, such as FarmVille, FrontierVille, and Mafia Wars. She alleges that she was scammed into participating in business offers in order to obtain "virtual cash" to spruce up her virtual Zynga estates, only to be unexpectedly billed by advertisers. (Check out TechCrunch's extensive coverage of the "ScamVille" scandal for more details.)
Zynga had argued that it was immune from the suit under Federal Communications Commission rules stating that Internet companies are not legally liable for content generated by third parties on their websites. But U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ruled that Zynga's offer of virtual cash in exchange for user participation in the misleading offers could make them liable.
Swift's complaint, Armstrong wrote, "alleges facts which, if proven, could support the conclusion that Zynga is responsible, in whole or in part, for creating or developing the special offers at issue."
The decision was issued out of the Oakland division of northern California's federal court.
We left messages with Zynga's media relations office seeking comment, and will bring you an update if we hear back.
UPDATE, 2:39 P.M.: In response to our request for comment, Zynga issued this statement from one of its lawyers, Jay Monahan: "We are disappointed that the Court has allowed the case to continue in the face of clear statutory immunity. The ads involved were created by third parties, not Zynga, and were removed more than a year ago, before the case was filed. We remain confident in our position and will continue to defend the case vigorously."
H/T | Courthouse News
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