Users sue RIM following BlackBerry outage, but is it for negligence or emotional distress?

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The frustration was significant among the tens of million BlackBerry users who found their beloved internet devices had stopped working last month. Three whole days went by without that comforting buzz from BlackBerries worldwide, causing hurt and upset.

At least that looks to be the case for a certain Eric Mitchell, of Sherman Oaks, California. He has now brought a lawsuit against Research In Motion (RIM), asking the company to “take full responsibility for these damages”. Mitchell cites breach of contract, negligence and unjust enrichment as his claims against RIM, which he estimates to be earning £2.12 every day in service revenues.

At the same time, another lawsuit was filed against RIM in Canada, on behalf of all the nation’s BB owners with an active service agreement. Both the Canadian and US lawsuits are asking for damages and compensation for service fees, a bill that could be costly for RIM: it has 2.4 million users in California alone.

Following the three-day BlackBerry “apocalypse”, brought on by an upgrade going catastrophically wrong, RIM apologised to its users. This came following three days of minimal information available, in what has been later hailed as a PR disaster for RIM.
“We will work tirelessly to regain customers’ confidence and are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this happening again,” said CEO Mike Lazaridis.

Lovely, but later the company announced it will compensate users with nothing more than free apps. A $100 worth of free apps, but those who missed out on important business emails during the three days may well feel this is not enough. The BB internet services dipped in and out during the outage, meaning some users were lead to believe things were up and running again when they were not.

According to Informa analyst Malik Saadi, RIM customers should probably be paid about $12 per day the loss of services, wrote the Guardian. This does not however take into account liability fees for loss of data.

To sue RIM for breach of contract seems a bit harsh, to be honest – in all likelihood everything possible was done to prevent this ordeal. We can imagine the frantic scenes at RIM HQ as the outage was going on, and the incident may have caused lasting damage to BlackBerry’s reputation. It then seems just as likely that these lawsuits are a way of seeing compensation for emotional distress. After all, we trusted you, RIM! Please don’t do it again.

ShinyJess

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