United States: No Method To The Mootness: Ninth Circuit Rejects Allstate's Effort To Moot Class Action Claims

On April 12, 2016, in Chen, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 13-16816, the Ninth Circuit considered whether an unaccepted offer of judgment and tender of payment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 to fully settle—and thereby moot—a plaintiff's individual claims would also moot putative class action claims.  Relying on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 136 S. Ct. 663 (2016), Judge Raymond C. Fisher, writing for the panel, held that an unaccepted offer and tender of payment was not sufficient to moot a plaintiff's class action claims.

On February 14, 2013, plaintiff Florencio Pacleb filed a class action complaint against defendant Allstate in the Northern District of California, alleging he received five phone calls from Allstate in violation of the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA).  In April 2013, Allstate made a Rule 68 offer of judgment to plaintiff to settle his individual claims, plus injunctive relief and attorneys' fees and costs.  Allstate deposited $20,000 in full settlement in an escrow account, to be paid to plaintiff upon entry of a district court judgment.  When the offer elapsed without a response from plaintiff, Allstate filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that because its Rule 68 offer would have satisfied all of plaintiff's individual claims, his claims were effectively moot.  Allstate also sought dismissal of plaintiff's class claims, arguing that if plaintiff's individual claims were mooted, his class claims were also mooted.  District Court judge Phyllis J. Hamilton denied Allstate's motion to dismiss, and later granted its motion to certify the issue for interlocutory appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

Campbell-Ewald's Unanswered Question

While the court agreed with Allstate that its offer of judgment would fully satisfy plaintiff's individual claims, it rejected Allstate's argument that this mooted plaintiff's class claims.  The court relied on Campbell-Ewald to hold that an unaccepted offer of judgment to settle individual claims does not moot class action claims.  (For more information on Campbell-Ewald, see our client alert here).

Campbell-Ewald left unanswered the question of whether the outcome would be different if a defendant deposited the full settlement amount into an account payable to plaintiff, and the court entered judgment for plaintiff in that amount.  Allstate argued that because it deposited the full amount of settlement funds—$20,000 —into an account payable to plaintiff upon entry of judgment, plaintiff's individual and class claims were mooted.  Relying on Pitts v. Terrible Herbst, Inc., 653 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2011), the court held that Allstate's tender of payment was irrelevant, because even if plaintiff's individual claims were fully satisfied, an unaccepted Rule 68 offer still would not moot a class action, as long as the plaintiff could still file a timely motion for class certification, which he could.

Alternate Reasons to Deny

The Court then offered two alternate reasons why plaintiff's individual and class claims were not mooted by Allstate's offer of judgment and deposit of funds into an account payable to plaintiff.  First, the Court went on to say that even if Pitts were not controlling, its ruling would not change.  Relying on Campbell-Ewald, the Court held that a plaintiff is entitled to decline an offer of judgment on individual claims in order to pursue relief on behalf of a putative class.  To hold otherwise, the Court reasoned, would allow defendants to use the mootness doctrine to "pick off" named plaintiffs and deny them a fair opportunity to pursue class-wide relief.

Second, the Court held that even if Allstate could moot an entire class action by mooting a plaintiff's individual claims, here plaintiff's claims were not mooted because under Campbell-Ewald, plaintiff must actually receive all the relief to which he is entitled.  Since Allstate's release of the $20,000 was contingent on the district court's dismissal, plaintiff had not yet received funds, and therefore had not received his entitled-to relief.

Takeaway

Chen is one of several post-Campbell-Ewald cases rejecting defendants' attempts to moot a putative class action by mooting the named plaintiff's individual claims.  See, e.g., Weitzner v. Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., No. 14-3423, 2016 WL 1359220 (3d Cir. Apr. 6, 2016); Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley v. Graduation Source, LLC, No. 14-cv-3232 (NSR), 2016 WL 872914, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2016); Brady v. Basic Research, L.L.C., 312 F.R.D. 304, 306 (E.D.N.Y. 2016).  (See our Brady post here).

However, another judge in the Southern District of New York saw things differently in Leyse v. Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, No. 13 Civ. 574 (AKH), 2016 WL 1253607 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 17, 2016), holding that a defendant's payment of plaintiff's individual claims plus court costs required entry of judgment.  (For more information on Leyse, see our post).

Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Morrison & Foerster LLP. All rights reserved

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Carlton Fields
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Carlton Fields
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions