Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez: U.S. Supreme Court Holds that a Full, Unaccepted Settlement Offer to a Named Plaintiff in a Putative Class Action Does Not Moot the Plaintiff’s Case

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - January 21, 2016

The Supreme Court held yesterday in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez that a defendant’s unaccepted offer to provide the full relief a plaintiff seeks does not render the plaintiff’s claim moot.  That question had been reserved in Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk, 133 S. Ct. 1523 (2013), which held that a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act should be dismissed if the named plaintiff’s individual claim becomes moot.  Campbell-Ewald makes clear that defendants in putative class actions cannot dispose of the case based on the rule in Genesis HealthCare merely by offering to settle the named plaintiff’s claims in full.  The Court expressly reserved decision, however, on whether actual payment of the sum demanded by a named plaintiff would moot that plaintiff’s claim, and did not cast doubt on the principle that a named plaintiff must maintain individual standing throughout every stage of the proceeding in order for a putative class action to remain justiciable.  Accordingly, the decision leaves open the question whether a defendant may ward off a putative class action by unilaterally remedying the named plaintiff’s claimed injuries.