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Media Alerts - Campion v. Old Republic Protection Company, Inc. - Ninth Circuit
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January 30, 2015
  Campion v. Old Republic Protection Company, Inc. - Ninth Circuit
Headline: Ninth Circuit Dismisses Appeal in Class Action as Moot after Class Representative Voluntarily Settled Individual Claims

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure

Issue Presented: Whether an appeal in a class action becomes moot after the putative class representative voluntarily settled his individual claims and no longer had a financial interest in the outcome of the case, even though he expressly retained his right to appeal.

Brief Summary: After the district court denied class certification and granted partial summary judgment in favor of Old Republic Protection Company, Inc. ("Old Republic"), Douglas Campion ("Campion") reached a settlement agreement in which he agreed to dismiss the putative class claims without prejudice but reserved whatever right to appeal that he had.

In a concise per curium opinion, the Ninth Circuit panel ruled that an appeal in a class action suit requires that the class representative retain a personal stake in the case. Without such appropriate interest, Campion lacked standing, ultimately resulting in mootness of the class action.

Extended Summary: Campion brought a class action against Old Republic, a company that sells home warranty plans, alleging that it arbitrarily denied claims made by him and similarly situated policyholders and cheated them out of benefits owed under their policies.

After the district court denied class certification and granted partial summary judgment in favor of Old Republic, Campion reached a settlement agreement in which he agreed to dismiss the putative class claims without prejudice but reserved whatever right to appeal that he had.

The panel cited to Narouz v. Charter Commc'ns, LLC and explained that the test for whether an appeal is moot after the putative class representative voluntarily settles his individual claims is whether the class representative retains a personal stake in the class claim. A personal stake in the class claim, according to the Court, turned on the language of the settlement agreement. The panel further explained that a personal stake must also be concrete or financial in nature if the putative class representative voluntarily settles his or her claims. When his or her claims expire involuntarily the class representative's personal stake may, in some circumstances, include theoretical interests such as those akin to a private attorney general.

Within the framework of Narouz, the facts that Campion voluntarily settled all his claims and would not receive a penny more no matter what would happen on appeal led the panel to conclude that Campion, as the class representative, lacked any concrete or financial interest in the class claim. Without the possibility of gaining any more compensation for his claims, attorney's fees, costs, or damages, Campion fell short of the standing requirements, and the appeal was therefore dismissed as moot.

Though in agreement with the outcome, Circuit Judge Owens dissented from the majority's holding that the appeal is moot, specifically disagreeing with the majority's interpretation of the "financial-in-nature" limitation in Narouz. Judge Owens opined that nothing in Narouz or any other Ninth Circuit case required the personal stake to be financial. Judge Owens reminded the majority that courts have recognized non-financial personal stakes such as vindication of the class's interests, the procedural right to represent a class, and the right to pursue class-wide injunctive relief. In addition, Judge Owens referred to Pitts v. Terrible Herbst, Inc. and stated that "a plaintiff whose individual claims become moot may appeal the denial of class certification so long as he retains 'either an individual economic interest... or a private-attorney-general-like interest in having a class certified if the requirements of rule 23 are met.'"

Nevertheless, Judge Owens concluded his dissent by predicting that the Supreme Court will someday rule in accordance with the majority in this case. Until then, he "read[s Ninth Circuit] precedent differently than [his] colleagues do."]

For the full opinion: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/da...14/12/31/12-56784.pdf

Panel: Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Susan P. Graber, and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges.

Date of Issued Opinion: December 31, 2014.

Docket Number: 12-56784

Decided: Dismissed as moot.

Case Alert Author: Daniel S. Seu

Counsel: Yury A Kolesnikov (argued) and Francis A. Bottini, Jr. (briefed), Bottini & Bottini, Inc., La Jolla, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant; Jay N. Varon (argued), Foley & Lardner LLP, Washington, D.C., Tammy H. Boggs (briefed), Foley & Lardner LLP, San Diego, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Per Curiam.

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Glenn Koppel

    Posted By: Glenn Koppel @ 01/30/2015 05:37 PM     9th Circuit  

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