AOL has been hit by another lawsuit in the US alleging that the internet service provider's software interfered with customers' computers.
The complaint, filed in New Jersey by law firm Hagens Berman, alleges that AOL 5.0 was released without warning customers that the browser made major changes to operating systems, rendering them unstable and in some cases inoperable.
Similar complaints have already been filed by Hagens Berman in other US states including Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. A separate federal suit filed last month seeks three times any actual damages or $1000 for each of the eight million users who have upgraded to version 5.0.
A Hagens Berman spokesman said that after the firm filed its first lawsuit it was "deluged" with complaints from consumers around the country, and said other states would be added to the list in the near future.
AOL did not return calls today for comment on the latest cases. But in February, when another law firm filed a similar lawsuit against it in US federal court, as opposed to state court, a spokesman said that complaints about problems caused by the company's browser were overblown.
He claimed that these problems resulted from customers' failure to understand that if they clicked "yes" during installation to enable AOL to become their default internet browser, it generally took control of all of the PC's online functions.
Hagens Berman has extensive experience in large class-action lawsuits. Steve Berman, the firm's managing partner, has been involved in prosecutions relating to Boeing, Exxon Valdez, Egghead, Nordstrom, Microsoft and American Express. He was also the lead counsel for 13 states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry.
Berman claimed that AOL 5.0 was a "brazen attempt by AOL to hold customers hostage as long as they wanted to connect to the internet".
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