The Third Circuit Applies Campbell-Ewald and Rejects an Attempt to Moot a Class Action by Buying Off the Named Plaintiff

Weitzner v. Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., 819 F.3d 61 (3d Cir. 2016).  Earlier this year, in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 136 S.Ct. 663 (2016), discussed here, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected an attempt by a class action defendant to moot a class action via an unaccepted offer of judgment for full relief to the named plaintiff.  Today, the Third Circuit applied that decision in a putative class action case under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. §227. Quoting Campbell-Ewald, Judge Scirica stated that “[b]ecause an unaccepted settlement offer ‘has no force,’ it moots neither Plaintiffs’ individual claims nor the case as a whole.”

The Third Circuit had granted interlocutory review of this matter under 28 U.S.C. §1292(b) back in July 2014, but held the case until the Supreme Court ruled in Campbell-Ewald.  Judge Scirica observed that Campbell-Ewald had overruled the holding in Weiss v. Regal Collections, Inc., 385 F.3d 337 (3d Cir. 2004), the leading case on this issue in the Third Circuit, that”[a]n offer of complete relief will generally moot the plaintiff’s claim, as that point the plaintiff retains no personal interest in the outcome of the litigation.”  [Disclosure:  I was counsel in Weiss].

Beyond that, however, Judge Scirica offered no view as to the effect of Campbell-Ewald on Weiss.  The panel also declined to consider any of the issues that Campbell-Ewald had reserved for subsequent decision.

Since Campbell-Ewald was right on point, the panel had little more to do than to cite and rely on that opinion.  Judge Scirica’s brief opinion covered the issue sufficiently.