Campbell-Elward v. Gomez

Posted: November 3, 2015 by beguide in case summaries, Fantasy Supreme Court League
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WHAT HAPPENED?
Plaintiff received a phone call solicitation from the Defendant, a third-party vendor representing the Navy.  Unfortunately for Defendant, Plaintiff opted out of solicitations under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act; and therefore, Plaintiff is entitled to $500.00 damages under the statute.  Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant, and Defendant offered to settle the claim for $1,500.00, triple the value.
WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT?
Ordinarily, this case would be resolved, since Plaintiff has been given three times the maximum value he could receive under the Statute.  This case is different because Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Defendant, which brings together the claims of Plaintiff and all other similarly situated Plaintiffs whose dinners were ruined by inappropriate phone calls.  Defendant’s settlement offer now seems more nefarious, as the purpose of the settlement was not to compensate Plaintiff, but to avoid the more significant damages that would likely result if the class was certified.  The question before the Court is therefore whether or not a class-action Plaintiff can continue his/her claim if the defendant has offered the individual party the maximum amount of statutory damages.
WHAT IS THE RULING
This case is not yet decided.
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS DECISION?
This case will have a significant holding on a specific type of class actions, which are cases where the maximum set of damages are set by law.  In this case, the Court can tell the maximum amount of damages, so the question of a full settlement is a clear yes/no answer.  In those cases, this case might significantly reduce the amount of class actions since defendants could hypothetically resolve the cases right when they begin.  This would affect many consumer protection statutes, since they often have damages limited by statute.  Broader class actions, where the damages are usually nominal but open-ended, should remain unaffected.
YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR CAMPBELL-ELWARD IF YOU:
Think class actions are an ineffectual method of change and think that this case should be resolved on practical grounds instead of legal grounds.  You also maybe joined a class action and got a check for eight dollars.
YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR THE GOMEZ IF YOU:
swear, Linda, if this goddamn phone goes off one more time during dinner, you’re going to throw it out the goddamn window!  I mean, you’re trying to eat here!
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