Western Digital hard drive settlement

by Walter Olson on April 14, 2006

Two readers have written in to call attention to the terms of a settlement by Western Digital of a class action over the disparity between the announced size of its hard drives and the amount that is usable (settlement notice/FAQs). Reader Bill Evans says the settlement will “affect only aftermarket drives, class members to get $7.50 for each drive and will be able to download backup software. Lawyers get $485,000 plus $15,000 for expenses.”

Reader Mickey Ferguson writes:

Some months ago I bought a Western Digital hard drive. I now see that a class action suit was brought against WD, claiming that they misrepresented their drive capacities. What was the remedy? They offered me software – EMC Dantz Retrospect Express version 7.0 for Windows users and version 6.1 for Mac users – for which I have no use or interest. I have much better backup software that I’ve already purchased. Plus, it has been reported in various locations on the network to be incompatible with Microsoft Windows .NET 2.0 framework, a common component in many recent software programs.

There are no other remedies. Either I take the software, which has very little commercial value and none to me personally, or I write a letter to the court, voicing my concerns above, that will immediately be trampled by both plaintiff and defense attorneys, who both want the settlement to go through because the settlement essentially costs WD very little (useless software that they OEM anyway), and the plaintiff attorneys get their percentage of the settlement. As usual, the plaintiff attorneys make huge sums of money, and the actual victims get nothing of any particular value.

P.S. Just to be clear, I don’t feel like I’ve been harmed in any way, nor do I feel entitled to any settlement. I knew ahead of time exactly the game they play. All drive manufacturers have played the game, and this is just a way for an attorney to make a lot of money over nothing. If it were my preference, I’d rather the judge throw the entire suit out and sanction the lawyers for a frivolous lawsuit, but I know that would never happen, and frankly, there are some people out there who don’t know the difference between 1 GB and 1 billion bytes, to whom there is a claim of (very slight) harm.

Update: Jul. 3.

{ 3 comments }

1 Deoxy 04.14.06 at 9:47 am

Mickey’s analysis of the settlement is perfect – the vast majority of those supposedly being represented gain NOTHING.

And his PS points to something even worse: the entire supposed cause is STANDARD PRACTICE. That is, th number of bytes in a GB is not standardized anywhere, and 80 “GB” hard drives from EVERY company will be a lot closer to 80,000,000,000 bytes than 85,899,345,920 bytes. This has been industry standard for over 20 years, yet it wasn’t worth the cost of defending, much less the possibility of finding a jury too stupid to make a rational choice.

The more I know about a case, the more wrong I find it to be. To put it another way, I begin to wonder if cases I don’t see anything wrong with are just areas where my technical knowledge is lacking.

2 Ted 04.15.06 at 12:03 pm

Walter: the settlement does not provide any cash for unnamed class members, just the software.

If there are five members of the class who wish to challenge this settlement on the grounds that (1) this class action never should have been brought; (2) that the class attorneys do not represent the best interests of the class because their primary interest is in obtaining extortionate attorney fees; and (3) settlement is not in the best interest of the class, because class members will lose money from the likelihood of future extortionate class action litigation encouraged by profitable results in this case, I will be happy to challenge the settlement on those grounds, with any attorney fees and expenses to be awarded by the court.

3 Kits 04.20.06 at 1:36 pm

Kilo is a SI standart for 1000, so kilobyte is 1000 bytes, and so on.
Under IEC 60027-2 Ed. 2.0 (2000-11) standart 1024 bytes are called “a kibibyte” and so on.
Please rtfm.

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