This case was filed on behalf of 710 holders of Google Apps for Education email accounts. They allege that Google unlawfully intercepted and processed their emails for commercial purposes, including for the purpose of showing them targeted advertisements. The plaintiffs joined together to file one complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, which allows for joinder of plaintiffs when their allegations arise out of the same conduct by the defendant and present common questions of law or fact. At a case management conference, the district court expressed dismay at the number of plaintiffs and invited Google to file a motion to sever the plaintiffs’ claims. Google did so on May 18, 2016.
On June 24, 2016, Public Citizen filed an amicus memorandum in opposition to Google’s motion. The memorandum explained the considerations warranting joinder under Rule 20 and the similarities between the basis for joinder and for consolidation, as the court had mentioned consolidating the cases after severing them. The memorandum also explained that neither filing fees or nor the credit that a judge would receive in terms of the number of cases pending before him or her are proper considerations when considering whether to allow joinder of plaintiffs. Nonetheless, in an order dated August 19, 2016, the court issued an opinion granting Google’s motion to sever.