Does an Unaccepted Offer of Full Relief Render Class Action Moot?

The Campbell-Ewald Company, a marketing consultant, was hired by the U.S. Navy to help with a recruiting campaign. Another company, Mindmatics, was used to compile a list of targeted phone numbers and send out the text messages for the recruiting campaign. On May 11, 2006, Jose Gomez received one of those messages, leading to a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit.

Class Action, Settlement Offer & Motions to Dismiss

Gomez sued the Campbell-Ewald Company, claiming in a class-action lawsuit that the marketing consultants violated the TCPA when they allowed a third-party to send unsolicited text messages to people’s cell phones. Campbell-Ewald filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied by the court. Then, the defendants offered the plaintiff a settlement which they contended provided complete relief, which was also rejected. Campbell-Ewald filed another motion to dismiss, arguing that when the plaintiff rejected the settlement, the claim became moot. Or in other words, there was nothing left to adjudicate as the Plaintiff received all he was entitled to in his lawsuit.

The Case Ended Up Before The Supreme Court With Two Vital Questions

Essentially, in the case, there were two questions the court needed to make decisions on:

  1. When a plaintiff receives a settlement offer completely relieving their claim, does the case become moot?
  2. Is derivative sovereign immunity reserved for property damage claims resulting from public works projects?

In the case of Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, the U.S. Supreme Court was left to decide whether or not the unaccepted offer for full relief rendered the claim moot. The decision of the Supreme Court was voted 5-3 that an unaccepted offer did not render the claim moot. What was left undetermined, however, was what might have happened if the defendants had deposited the full relief settlement offer with the court. Would the case have been dismissed at that point?

The Supreme Court asserts that this did not happen in this case, leaving the answer to that question unanswered. In regard to derivative sovereign immunity, the Supreme Court gave this answer: when a contractor violates the government’s express instructions, as well as federal law, they are not immune from lawsuits.

This entire process argued over approximately $1,500. As you can see, even when a case seems simple, like Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, it can become extremely complex, with motions to dismiss and questions that are not easy to answer. If you have a TCPA case, call an experienced Illinois TCAP law attorney who knows how to finagle the loopholes in the laws.

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