The Supreme Court has ruled that a company cannot terminate class action litigation by strategically making a settlement offer of full relief to individual plaintiffs. The case, Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, involved a consumer who refused to drop his Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuit in exchange for such an offer. The defendant company argued that the offer, which exceeded the statutory damages under the TCPA, mooted his case. The Justices disagreed, ruling 6-3 that “an unaccepted settlement offer has no force. Like other unaccepted contract offers, it creates no lasting right or obligation.” EPIC routinely works to protect consumer privacy interests in class action settlements.
Although this was TCPA case, the ruling is significant for all privacy and data breach class action lawsuits. Companies will not be able to buy off/reimburse lead plaintiffs and make others’ claims go away if the others do not accept the settlement.