The Eleventh Circuit resurrected a putative class action by holding that consumers need not prove actual damages in order to recover statutory damages based on alleged willful violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). See Santos v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Grp., LLC., –F4th–, 2023 WL 7289662 (11th Cir. Nov. 6, 2023) (per curium).Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Holds Willful Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act Do Not Require Proof of Actual Damages
On October 25, 2023, the Eleventh Circuit overruled several objections to a $2.67 billion antitrust class action settlement agreement that was the product of years of negotiations between Blue Cross and classes of its past and present health plan subscribers. Two objections, raised by Home Depot, focused on (i) the settlement’s release of antitrust claims arising from Blue Cross’s conduct, and, relatedly, (ii) the adequacy of representation for an injunctive class of plaintiffs who might have future claims based on that conduct.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Upholds Blue Cross Blue Shield Subscriber Settlement Over Antitrust and Public Policy Objections
This blog previously covered the Eleventh Circuit’s July 2022 decision in Drazen v. Pinto, which held that all class members must have Article III standing in order to receive individual damages in a class settlement. 41 F.4th 1354 (11th Cir. 2022). Because the law in the Eleventh Circuit at the time held that a…
Last week, the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part and remanded an order certifying a class in a case arising from a data breach of Chili’s restaurants, Green-Cooper v. Brinker International, Inc., No. 21-13146, 2023 WL 4446420 (11th Cir. July 11, 2023). The opinion clarifies the Eleventh Circuit’s view of when data breaches give rise to Article III standing.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Holds Having Payment Information Posted to Dark Web Establishes Standing in Data Breach Case, Remands Class Certification Order
We previously covered the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Johnson v. NPAS Solutions, LLC, 975 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 2020), in which the Eleventh Circuit relied on two Supreme Court decisions from the 1880s to prohibit courts from awarding incentive or service awards to class representatives in class settlements. Id. at 1255 (citing Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527 (1881), and Cent. R.R. & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116 (1885). Although the Eleventh Circuit was the first federal appellate court to bar these awards in all circumstances, a recent Second Circuit decision agreed that these awards are “likely impermissible” under Supreme Court precedent, while observing that it would take the entire Second Circuit to overturn prior precedent upholding incentive awards. See Fikes Wholesale, Inc. v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 62 F.4th 704, 721 (2nd Cir. 2023). The Department of Justice has likewise implied that it agrees with the Eleventh Circuit’s position, relying on the Johnson decision in an effort to block incentive awards from a class settlement in a District of Columbia court. Continue Reading Supreme Court Denies Cert on Incentive Awards
The Eleventh Circuit recently addressed two aspects of Article III standing relevant to class action settlements: the standing of a class member to object, and the standing of class representatives to seek injunctive relief—and thus whether such injunctive relief should be given any weight as part of the approval process.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Analyzes Article III Standing in Class Action Settlement Context
The Eleventh Circuit is poised to reconsider recent standing decisions favorable for defendants seeking to invoke Article III’s standing requirements to defeat class certification.
At issue is the Eleventh Circuit’s July 2022 decision in Drazen v. Pinto, holding that (i) all class members must have Article III standing in order to receive individual damages (whether through a settlement or otherwise), and (ii) the standing determination is decided under Eleventh Circuit law, even where certain class members do not reside within the Eleventh Circuit’s geographic boundaries and may have standing under other circuit precedent. 41 F.4th 1354, 1360–61 (11th Cir. 2022). The dispute in Drazen arose in the context of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), and addressed both unwanted phone calls and text messages. While a settlement in Drazen was pending, the Eleventh Circuit held in Salcedo v. Hanna, 936 F.3d 1162, 1168 (11th Cir. 2019), that, contrary to precedent in other circuits, a single unwanted text message was not sufficient to give rise to Article III standing under the TCPA. Because the panel was bound by Salcedo, and because the proposed class definition in the Drazen settlement included individuals whose sole harm was an unwanted text message, those individuals did not have standing. The panel therefore vacated the district court’s approval of the settlement.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit to Reconsider Standing Decisions
An Alabama district court recently granted dismissal of a class action asserting Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) claims brought by Illinois residents against ProctorU, Inc. in Thakkar v. ProctorU Inc., No. 2:21-cv-01565 (N.D. Ala.). The district court concluded that a choice-of-law provision contained in the terms of service and which required the application of Alabama law precluded the application of BIPA to the conduct alleged.Continue Reading Alabama Federal Court Finds Choice-of-Law Provision Bars BIPA Privacy Lawsuit Against Online Examination Company
If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? Philosophers disagree. If a product contains a contaminant but no one gets sick, did it cause an injury? Judges disagree.
In the 2000s, enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys attempted to push the boundaries of existing tort law by arguing that plaintiffs are entitled to damages for defects even when they cause no physical injury. These so-called “no-injury” theories of liability were largely rejected by courts. E.g., Rivera v. Wyeth-Ayerst Lab’ys, 283 F.3d 315, 320–21 (5th Cir. 2002) (dismissing “no-injury products liability law suit”); Johnson v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 2014 WL 4494284, at *7 (W.D. Wis. Sept. 12, 2014) (recognizing that in the “consumer product context, courts routinely find lack of standing where—while a product may have been defective in the hands of others—the individual plaintiffs did not suffer the defect and, therefore, suffered no injury”).
While these cases closed the door on “no-injury” product liability claims, they left open the possibility of other “no-injury” claims, such as claims that a manufacturing defect breached a warranty or constituted fraud. E.g., Cole v. Gen. Motors Corp., 484 F.3d 717, 723 (5th Cir. 2007) (“Notably in this case, plaintiffs may bring claims under a contract theory based on the express and implied warranties they allege.”).
Whether and when “no-injury” claims are viable is a hotly debated question. As more fully discussed below, courts disagree on whether a plaintiff who has purchased a contaminated or defective product—but who has successfully used the product for its intended purpose while suffering no physical injury—can maintain a claim.Continue Reading A Closer Look: Does Purchasing a Defective or Contaminated Product Always Cause an Article III Injury?
The Eleventh Circuit, sitting en banc, recently applied TransUnion to hold that a plaintiff lacked Article III standing to bring claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Hunstein v. Preferred Collection & Mgmt. Servs., Inc., No. 19-14434, 2022 WL 4102824 (11th Cir. Sept. 8, 2022)(en banc). The en banc decision reversed a controversial panel decision allowing a plaintiff to sue a collection agency for disclosing information about his debt to the agency’s mail vendor.Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit, Sitting En Banc, Reverses Panel Decision And Holds FDCPA Plaintiff Lacks Standing