BONITA SPRINGS — After a 10-month fight with Samsung, a Bonita Springs lawyer's class-action lawsuit over random shutdowns and other purported defects in Galaxy S smartphones has been resolved.
The lawsuit filed in December by attorney Kenneth Gilman was among several across the nation that alleged Galaxy S cellphones, including the Captivate, Fascinate, Vibrant and Epic 4G, had numerous defects, including random shutdowns; the inability to shut off calls; a darkened screen after three seconds that rendered it inoperable; and defective voicemail and email.
They were the target of complaints on Internet forums and law firm websites, which urged consumers to join class-action lawsuits.
The Sept. 27 dismissal came after both sides negotiated a settlement, agreeing to drop the case without costs to either side.
"The stipulated dismissal was not part of a settlement, refund or any other type of monetary or nonmonetary agreement," said David E. Cannella, of Orlando, a Samsung Telecommunications America LLC attorney, who said he couldn't elaborate.
Gilman and his Fort Myers attorney, David H. Harris, had filed papers saying they'd reached terms agreeable to both sides. They couldn't be reached for comment.
Gilman filed his lawsuit eight months after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 ruling that may eliminate citizens' rights to band together to file class-action lawsuits against large corporations.
The decision involved AT&T Mobility cellphones and a common contract requiring customers to settle claims through arbitration, not lawsuits. Such contracts, often in fine print, are becoming increasingly common with companies offering cellphones, credit cards, cable service, furnaces, water heaters, loans and other products.
In March, Samsung filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit or compel arbitration, arguing that it sells its phones "as is" and Gilman never returned his Fascinate cellphone for repair or replacement, as required under his contract, which mandates that consumers undergo arbitration, not sue.
Samsung noted Gilman purchased his cellphone through Verizon and had a Verizon contract, so he should dispute his claim through Verizon, which tested the Samsung cellphones before deciding to sell them.
A week before the dismissal, a federal magistrate gave Gilman until Sept. 26 to reply to Samsung's motion to dismiss or compel arbitration. In July, a judge agreed with the magistrate's report that the lawsuit was a "shotgun pleading," a lawsuit containing excessive claims with no clear organization.
"The plaintiff does not distinguish which facts are relevant to each count, making the reader wonder which of the prior factual allegations support the elements of the claim," U.S. District Court Magistrate Douglas Frazier wrote, noting that would force a judge to sift through facts to decide which were relevant.
The magistrate allowed the lawyers to amend the lawsuit.
In August, they filed an amended complaint alleging Samsung told consumers its phones were "free from defects in material and workmanship under normal use and service" for a year after purchase.
But despite receiving complaints about the random shutdown within a week of the smartphones' July 2010 release, the suit said Samsung continued to ship millions of defective phones, even issuing a press release lauding itself for such high sales figures. The lawsuit notes that it sold 14 million worldwide within a year.
Samsung again asked to dismiss the lawsuit or compel arbitration, prompting the dismissal.