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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Gomez v. Campbell-Ewald Co.: Rejected Settlement Offer Does Not Moot Individual or Putative Class Claims

Gomez v. Campbell-Ewald Company, ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 9/19/2014) concerns an issue that has arisen more frequently in employment class actions: whether a rejected settlement offer moots individual and/or class claims. See Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1523 (2013) (discussed here).

In Gomez, the plaintiff filed an individual and putative class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The defendant made a Rule 68 offer of judgment for the full amount of the plaintiff’s individual claim, and the plaintiff rejected the offer. After the district court dismissed the action on grounds not relevant here, the plaintiff appealed. The defendant then moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the personal and putative class claims were mooted by Gomez’s refusal to accept the settlement offer. The Ninth Circuit rejected this argument, holding as follows:

Under Ninth Circuit precedent, "an unaccepted Rule 68 offer that would fully satisfy a plaintiff’s claim is insufficient to render the [individual] claim moot," and such an offer, even if made before the plaintiff moves for class certification, does not render the class claims moot. Slip op. at 6-8.

Genesis Healthcare did not change this result. Genesis Healthcare was a putative collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), rather than a Rule 23 class action, and 
the precedents established in FLSA collective actions do not apply in Rule 23 class actions. Slip op. at 8-9. 

The opinion is available here.