The Supreme Court issued its opinion today in the first of what will be several class-action-related decisions this term. As noted in my Supreme Court preview post, the primary issue in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, No. 14-857 was whether an unaccepted offer of complete relief to a named plaintiff in a class action had the effect of mooting the plaintiff’s claim, depriving a federal court of Article III jurisdiction. The Court said no, agreeing with the now unanimous view of the Circuit Courts of Appeals. Click this link for a copy of the slip opinion. Justice Kennedy sided with the liberal wing of the Court in supporting Justice Ginsburg’s majority opinion, with Justice Thomas concurring in the judgment. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the opinion from a practitioner’s point of view is the issue that the majority expressly decline to address despite having been discussed at some length during oral argument:
We need not, and do not, now decide whether the result would be different if a defendant deposits the full amount of the plaintiff ’s individual claim in an account payable to the plaintiff, and the court then enters judgment for the plaintiff in that amount. That question is appropriately reserved for a case in which it is not hypothetical.
So, just as we were left with a cliffhanger when the Court decided its previous case involving offers of judgment, Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, we’ll have to stay tuned for the third chapter of the trilogy to find out whether paying the full amount of a plaintiff’s claim into the registry of the Court moots a class action. Be on the lookout for a preview of this issue at a District Court near you.