Cash RegisterMany lawsuits over consumer products involve allegations that a product didn’t work as advertised, or that the manufacturer failed to adequately disclose how to use the product.  These cases often are filed by plaintiffs who have spent just a few dollars on the product and suffered no real damages, other than possibly the price of the product, assuming their allegations can be proven.  Thus, these cases frequently are seen in the form of class actions.  The Supreme Court’s decision in Symczyk v. Genesis Healthcare Corp., 133 S.Ct. 1523 (2013)and cases since have raised the issue of whether a defendant’s unaccepted offer of judgment for complete relief can moot individual claims or even class actions before a class is certified, which in turn raises the issue of whether such cases can be mooted by a simple offer of a full refund.

In Symczyk, the plaintiff brought a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  No other employees “opted into” the lawsuit, the plaintiff failed to accept the defendant’s offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 for the full amount of the plaintiff’s alleged damages, and the Supreme Court held that the District Court lost subject matter jurisdiction.  However, based on procedural issues with the plaintiff’s appeal, the Supreme Court assumed, without deciding, that the unaccepted Rule 68 offer mooted the plaintiff’s individual claim.
Continue Reading Can a Consumer Products Company Moot Class Actions by Offering a Refund?