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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez: Supreme Court to Address Settlement Offers and the "Headless" Class Action

In Gomez v. Campbell-Ewald Co., 768 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2014) (discussed here), the plaintiff filed a class action for violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii), alleging that the defendant instructed or allowed a third party to send unsolicited text messages to him and others. The defendant offered to settle the case by paying the plaintiff $1,503 per violation, plus costs. The plaintiff rejected the offer.

The district court granted summary judgment on other grounds, and the plaintiff appealed. The defendant argued that the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction because the offer of compromise mooted the plaintiff's individual and class claims. The Ninth Circuit rejected this argument, holding that an unaccepted Rule 68 offer of compromise that would fully satisfy a plaintiff's claim does not moot either the individual or class claim. The Court distinguished Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1523 (2013) (discussed here) on grounds that 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.

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on May 18. Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez, case no. 14-857, will be heard next term. SCOTUSblog has a page for the case here. The Ninth Circuit opinion is available here.

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