Federal Court Dismisses Class Action Complaint Based on Pre-Complaint Offer of Settlement

In Datascope Analytics, LLC v. Comcast Cable Communications, Inc., No. 13-608, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70215 (E.D. Pa. May 17, 2013), the District Court dismissed a proposed class action at the inception of the lawsuit because defendant Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. mooted the case by offering to settle with the named plaintiffs for the full amount of their alleged damages before the complaint was filed. This decision gives potential class action defendants an avenue for avoiding class litigation in a narrow group of cases.

Plaintiffs were customers of Comcast’s Business Class Service for voice and/or internet services who claimed that Comcast charged Business Class customers fees inconsistent with their contracts. They initially sued Comcast in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. However, before the plaintiffs moved to certify the class in that case, Comcast offered to settle with the individual named plaintiffs by paying them the full damages they requested, plus costs and attorney fees, and by offering to let the only plaintiff that was still a Business Class customer terminate its contract without paying an early termination fee. The total value of the settlement before attorneys’ fees and litigation costs was less than $1,200. Following this offer, the named plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the Illinois action without prejudice. Plaintiffs’ counsel later rejected the offer of settlement, however, and filed a new, substantially identical, class action complaint against Comcast in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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