Monday, October 12, 2009

A Good Exemplar UCL Certification Opinion: Baghdasarian v. Amazon.Com, Inc.

This morning I stumbled across Baghdasarian v. Amazon.Com, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92777 (C.D. Cal. July 6, 2009) – a class certification decision out the Central District of California. In that case, the plaintiff sought certification under the deception prong of the UCL for Amazon’s alleged practice of retaining a portion of shipping fees that were unilaterally set by Amazon without seller input in its Amazon Marketplace platform. See id., at 2-3. The Court’s analysis is noteworthy for its adherence to the principles set forth in In Re Tobacco II Cases.

For example, the Court’s discussion of UCL standing properly acknowledges that “[p]laintiff does not need to show affirmative proof that each individual class member relied on Defendant's deceptive conduct.” See id. at 8-9. Moreover, despite the defendant’s efforts to focus on individual issues relating to individual class member reliance [id., at10-12], the Court’s certification analysis properly focuses on the defendant’s conduct:
common questions of law and fact predominate over individual issues of proof. Specifically, the case deals with whether Defendant's shipping and handling disclosure misleadingly stated or implied that the fee was for shipping and handling, and whether it misleadingly stated or implied that the fee is passed on in full to Marketplace Sellers to compensate them for actual shipping and handling costs. These questions are "common to the entire class and [require] no separate inquiry into the actions or beliefs of individual class members." Simer v. Rios, 661 F.2d 655, 673 (7th Cir. 1981). Further, these questions are significant because they have a direct bearing on the ability of each class member to prove Defendant's liability. See Klay v. Humana, Inc., 382 F.3d 1241, 1255 (11th Cir. 2004). Common questions predominate over any individual questions in this case.
Baghdasarian, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92777, 16-17.

Under principles espoused in In Re Tobacco II Cases, the defendant’s conduct is the only relevant issue bearing on UCL liability (previously discussed here and here).

No comments:

Post a Comment