Judge Amy J. St. Eve of the Northern District of Illinois recently held that a purported settlement agreement in a putative class action filed by Craftwood Lumber Co. against Interline Brands, Inc. was not enforceable. See Craftwood Lumber Co. v. Interline Brands Inc., No. 11-4462 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 23, 2014). Judge St. Eve held that the “Term Sheet” executed at the end of the parties’ mediation session lacked sufficient detail to establish that a binding and enforceable settlement had been reached.
The statutory damages that have caused so many plaintiffs to file TCPA class actions have also caused some courts to find that class actions are not the superior method for adjudicating them. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) requires not only that common questions predominate over individual ones, but also that “a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3). Whether a class action is the superior method for adjudication depends on a number of stated and unstated considerations, among them “the class members’ interests in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3)(A). As we have noted before, some courts have held that TCPA claims are categorically unfit for class treatment because $500-$1,500 plus attorneys’ fees and costs is adequate to incent individuals to file claims, is disproportionate to any actual damages, and is potentially ruinous if aggregated in a class action. Two state courts recently addressed this issue and reached contrary conclusions.
At the invitation of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the FCC recently filed a letter brief in Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. Sarris, No. 13-14013 (11th Cir.). The letter brief took the position that defendants can be held directly liable any time their products or services are advertised via a fax that violates the TCPA—even if they did not send the fax or even know that it was going to be sent.