Lawyer's Microsoft email snafu goes from $1.75M lawsuit to Ctrl+Alt+Settle

Accused software giant of MFA error that rendered work address useless

The New Jersey attorney who sued Microsoft for $1.75 million claiming verification gremlins had cut him off from his paid work email filed for voluntary dismissal on Friday.

The attorney had originally claimed back in June that the snafu had cut him off from judges and clients, meaning he couldn't tackle his caseload, and opened him up to the risk of being accused of serious ethical violations.

The attorney, who sued both on his own behalf and that of his law practice, filed for dismissal [PDF] of the case at the New York federal court last week, just over three months after filing the original complaint.

Schlachter told legal site Law360 that "the matter had been settled," but reportedly did not disclose further details, citing a confidentiality agreement.

The attorney had asked for $1.75 million in the suit – $750,000 in damages and $1 million in punitive damages, accusing Microsoft of both breach of contract and "tortious business dealings" for "wantonly delaying the simple remedy of aiding one single email access."

The original allegation was that Schlachter lost access to his Microsoft business email account on May 10 this year, but that the software giant failed to extricate him from a verification loop that was preventing him from getting into his account, which the filing said he paid for via a monthly subscription.

The snafu cited in the suit, error code: 500121 for the curious, "typically occurs when authentication failed as part of the multi-factor authentication request," and "may indicate a configuration or service error," according to a Microsoft Support Community post. There are three pages of threads referring to the error on the support forums. Posts on Microsoft support channels direct users to contact their admins. We've contacted the company to ask for official guidance.

According to the complaint, Schlachter had a customer service line but no ability to email tech support. He alleged customer support would not resolve the problem after multiple calls and promises that the issue could be addressed. Schlachter filed the first complaint on May 24, 14 days after the problem began, stating he still had no access.

Among other things, Schlachter alleged he "had no access to NJ eCourts because the online system requests email verification to that account"; couldn't "pay loans because the online portal system for the loan payments is linked to that account"; was "not receiving any communication from Federal Bankruptcy Courts, and he has open cases", and couldn't communicate with "Judges, clerks, adversaries, colleagues, clients, United States Trustees" who had the address.

Before the attorney filed for voluntary dismissal, trial lawyer Michael Lieberman of Fox Rothschild, representing Microsoft, had filed a memo [PDF] in August arguing Microsoft's Online Subscription Agreement required that Schlachter's action be brought in Washington State.

We've asked both Schlachter and Microsoft for comment. ®

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