M.D. Fla. Rejects “Placeholder” Class Certification Motion

As we have previously noted, several courts in the Middle District of Florida have made it abundantly clear that plaintiffs should not file “placeholder” class certification motions solely for the purpose of thwarting an attempt to “pick-off” a named plaintiff. See Stein, et al. v. Buccaneers LP, No. 13-2136 (M.D. Fla.) (J., Merryday); Haight v. Bluestem Brands, Inc., No. 13-1400 (M.D. Fla.) (M.J., Spaulding). Last week, the court reiterated this stance yet again. See Dickerson v. Lab. Corp. of Am., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100323 (M.D. Fla. July 23, 2014) (J. Moody).

In Dickerson, the plaintiff filed a bare-bones class certification motion before the defendant had even responded to the complaint in order to preempt a potential offer of judgment. It then asked the court to defer its ruling until after discovery. Given the precedent in the district, the court denied the motion as premature. The court reasoned that the plaintiff’s concerns about Damasco v. Clearwire Corp., 662 F.3d 891 (7th Cir. 2011) – which held that the pendency of a class certification motion prevents an offer of judgment from mooting a named plaintiff’s claim – was unfounded because the 7th Circuit decision is not binding in the 11th Circuit and “is a decidedly minority view.” It also expressed doubt that the 11th Circuit would allow an unaccepted offer of judgment to moot a named plaintiff’s claim even in the absence of a class certification motion, as that tactic had faced “a withering attack from four U.S. Supreme Court Justices, with no rebuttal from the others.” Finally, it observed that “Plaintiff’s strategy comes with a cost. It burdens the Court with an obviously premature motion that is devoid of content and the motion remains on the Court’s docket as pending….”

Coincidentally, the 11th Circuit will soon have its chance to put the issue to rest. The Stein court, which dismissed the action as moot as a result of a pre-class certification offer of judgment, was appealed to the 11th Circuit and argued yesterday. We will keep you posted of any decision.

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