For more information, contact:
Ellen Spertus


(San Francisco, CA-Apr. 22, 2001) On April 16, 2001, the Small Claims Division of the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco released a ruling against Kozmo under California state laws regulating unsolicited commercial email (UCE), commonly known as "spam."

The court awarded Ellen Spertus, the plaintiff, $50 principal and $27.50 in court costs in what Spertus called a "moral victory." Spertus sued under Sections 17538.45 and 17538.4 of the California Business and Professions Code, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1999.

Spertus said that she has received thousands of pieces of spam over the years but that the November 23 mailing from Kozmo "pushed her over the edge". The mailing began by acknowledging that it was being sent to customers "who originally opted not to receive occasional e-mail news from us". When Spertus complained to the address provided for privacy concerns on the site, the message was returned as undeliverable. Kozmo ignored a subsequent letter of complaint, at which time Spertus filed suit.

The hearing was held in San Francisco on April 4, 2001. Spertus argued that the Kozmo mailing violated Section 17538.4, which states, "Upon notification by a recipient of his or her request not to receive any further unsolicited faxed or e-mailed documents, no person or entity conducting business in this state shall fax or cause to be faxed or e-mail or cause to be e-mailed any unsolicited documents to that recipient."

Spertus, a computer science professor at Mills College in Oakland, California, learned of the opportunity for action against UCE through

Spertus said that she does not expect to collect from Kozmo, which went out of business on April 11, 2001. "It is still a victory. My goal was to send a message to companies that they cannot disregard users' 'opt-out' requests and to let individuals know that they can fight back. It was never about the money." Spertus went on to joke: "If money were my primary motivator, I wouldn't have become a college professor. I am just grateful that the judge didn't award me the company."

Spertus vs. is San Francisco Small Claims Case #789335. More information can be found online at To contact Spertus directly, email or call 415-225-3656.