In what may be considered a blow to class action defense, this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that an offer of judgment to the named plaintiffs did not moot a proposed class action.  This was a case of first impression before the Eleventh Circuit.

The putative class action,  Stein v. Buccaneers LP, alleges that owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent unsolicited faxes advertising ticket sales to the plaintiff and more than 100,000 others nationwide in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).   After removing the matter to federal court, the defendant, Buccaneers LP, made offers of judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 68 to each of the six named plaintiffs based on the alleged number of faxes each received.   In what courts have sometimes called a “pick-off,” two days after making the offers of judgment, Buccaneers LP moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.  Specifically, Buccaneers LP argued that the unaccepted offers of judgment, which provided each named plaintiff with the full relief they were entitled to under the TCPA, rendered the case moot.  Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification.  The district court denied the motion for class certification and after the plaintiffs failed to accept the offers of judgment within the 14 day deadline, the district court held that the action was moot and dismissed the case.

In reversing the district’s court’s dismissal of the case, the Eleventh Circuit held that a defendant can’t moot a class action through an unaccepted offer of judgment made to the named plaintiffs before the plaintiffs have moved to certify the class.  While the Seventh Circuit has held otherwise, the Eleventh Circuit stated that the Third, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits have reached the same conclusion: “a Rule 68 offer of full relief to the named plaintiff does not moot a class action, even if the offer precedes a class-certification motion, so long as the named plaintiff has not failed to diligently pursue class certification.”

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William J. Anthony

William J. Anthony is a Principal in the Albany, New York and Hartford, Connecticut offices of Jackson Lewis P.C.  Mr. Anthony earned a B.A. from Hamilton College in 1985 and graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1989.  Upon graduation, he joined…

William J. Anthony is a Principal in the Albany, New York and Hartford, Connecticut offices of Jackson Lewis P.C.  Mr. Anthony earned a B.A. from Hamilton College in 1985 and graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1989.  Upon graduation, he joined the San Francisco office of Jackson Lewis, transferred to the firm’s Morristown office in 1991 and was named Managing Partner of the firm’s Hartford office in 2000.  Mr. Anthony served as Managing Partner of the Hartford office until 2008 and on the firm’s Management Committee for a number of years.  Mr. Anthony is the Chair of the firm’s National Class Action Practice Group.

Mr. Anthony has handled numerous class and collective actions including wage and hour claims alleging claims for improper payment of bonuses, misclassification of customer service employees, dispatchers, assistant retail managers, time share resort salespeople, pharmaceutical sales representatives and installation technicians and failure to pay minimum wage to tipped employees.  Mr. Anthony has handled class and/or collective actions in CT, MA, NJ, PA, IL, FL, TN, CA and WA.

Photo of Jason C. Gavejian Jason C. Gavejian

Jason C. Gavejian is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and co-leader of the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group. Jason is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) with the International Association of Privacy…

Jason C. Gavejian is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and co-leader of the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group. Jason is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

As a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US), Jason focuses on the matrix of laws governing privacy, security, and management of data. Jason is co-editor of, and a regular contributor to, the firm’s Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report blog.

Jason’s work in the area of privacy and data security includes counseling international, national, and regional companies on the vast array of privacy and security mandates, preventive measures, policies, procedures, and best practices. This includes, but is not limited to, the privacy and security requirements under state, federal, and international law (e.g., HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), FTC Act, ECPA, SCA, GLBA etc.). Jason helps companies in all industries to assess information risk and security as part of the development and implementation of comprehensive data security safeguards including written information security programs (WISP). Additionally, Jason assists companies in analyzing issues related to: electronic communications, social media, electronic signatures (ESIGN/UETA), monitoring and recording (GPS, video, audio, etc.), biometrics, and bring your own device (BYOD) and company owned personally enabled device (COPE) programs, including policies and procedures to address same. He regularly advises clients on compliance issues under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and has represented clients in suits, including class actions, brought in various jurisdictions throughout the country under the TCPA.

Jason represents companies with respect to inquiries from the HHS/OCR, state attorneys general, and other agencies alleging wrongful disclosure of personal/protected information. He negotiates vendor agreements and other data privacy and security agreements, including business associate agreements. His work in the area of privacy and data security includes counseling and coaching clients through the process of investigating and responding to breaches of the personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI) they maintain about consumers, customers, employees, patients, and others, while also assisting clients in implementing policies, practices, and procedures to prevent future data incidents.

Jason represents management exclusively in all aspects of employment litigation, including restrictive covenants, class-actions, harassment, retaliation, discrimination, and wage and hour claims in both federal and state courts. He regularly appears before administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, and the New Jersey Department of Labor. Jason’s practice also focuses on advising/counseling employers regarding daily workplace issues.

Jason’s litigation experience, coupled with his privacy practice, provides him with a unique view of many workplace issues and the impact privacy, data security, and social media may play in actual or threatened lawsuits.

Jason regularly provides training to both executives and employees and regularly speaks on current privacy, data security, monitoring, recording, BYOD/COPE, biometrics (BIPA), social media, TCPA, and information management issues. His views on these topics have been discussed in multiple publications, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGATE), National Law Review, Bloomberg BNA, Inc.com, @Law Magazine, Risk and Insurance Magazine, LXBN TV, Business Insurance Magazine, and HR.BLR.com.

Jason is the co-leader of Jackson Lewis’ Hispanic Attorney resource group, a group committed to increasing the firm’s visibility among Hispanic-American and other minority attorneys, as well as mentoring the firm’s attorneys to assist in their training and development. He also previously served on the National Leadership Committee of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and regularly volunteers his time for pro bono matters.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Jason served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Richard J. Donohue on the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County.