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Amazon Must Turn Over Extensive Records in Alexa Privacy Lawsuit

Nov. 1, 2022, 2:57 PM

Amazon.com Inc. must produce millions of documents in response to discovery requests in a potential class action over the marketing of its Alexa-enabled devices and their recording of users’ conversations, a federal judge ruled.

Kaeli Garner, Ricky Babani, and other plaintiffs allege that Amazon sold its Alexa-enabled devices to consumers using unfair and deceptive advertising, and illegally record conversations in violation of state law.

Amazon had argued the plaintiffs’ discovery requests were unduly burdensome and weren’t proportional to the needs of the lawsuit. But Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington said Monday the requested discovery was justified by the high stakes of the case.

“These devices are ubiquitous in our society, and plaintiffs are seeking astronomical damages commensurate with the number of people who have been recorded over the years,” Lasnik said. “Plaintiffs’ queries may not be perfect, but they represent a good faith effort to generate search term strings that will capture relevant documents.”

  • The plaintiffs need discovery concerning Amazon’s intent in marketing Alexa devices, complaints received by the company, and how Alexa-enabled devices function, Lasnik said.
  • Amazon estimated it would have to produce 4.4 million documents in response to the plaintiffs’ requests.
  • The court said Amazon failed to provide data regarding the time and expense of producing the documents.
  • The plaintiffs negotiated with Amazon over the discovery requests “in good faith,” the court said.

Bursor & Fisher PA, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca LLP, Zimmerman Reed LLP, Labaton Sucharow LLP, Berger Singerman LLP, Borde Law PLLC, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, and Byrnes Keller Cromwell LLP represent the plaintiffs and the proposed class. Fenwick & West LLP represented Amazon.

The case is Garner v. Amazon.com Inc., W.D. Wash., No. 2:21-cv-00750, 10/31/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Brown in St. Louis at ChrisBrown@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Brian Flood at bflood@bloomberglaw.com