March 2013: Class Action Litigation Update: Defeating Nationwide Class Actions: Mind Your Burden or Get Burned.

by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Defeating Nationwide Class Actions: Mind Your Burden or Get Burned. Last year, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision that many interpreted as a death-knell for multistate consumer class actions. In Mazza v. American Honda Motor Co., the Ninth Circuit decertified a class of automobile buyers in a false advertising lawsuit, based in part on the finding that differences in state laws precluded certification of a nationwide class.

The underlying Mazza suit alleged that Honda violated California law by disseminating advertisements that misrepresented the Collision Mitigating Braking System sold with certain Acura automobiles by concealing information about the limitations of that system. The district court certified a nationwide consumer class, concluding that California law could apply to all class members because Honda had failed to show how differences in the various states’ laws were material, that other states had an interest in applying their own laws, or how those interests were implicated. The district court further concluded that California, which was the forum state and the headquarters of Honda’s U.S. operations, had sufficient contacts to the claims to ensure application of California law would not be arbitrary or unfair to nonresident class members.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed. Pointing to varying scienter and reliance requirements, the court held that such differences “are not trivial or wholly immaterial,” because these elements “will spell the difference between the success and failure of the claim.” The Ninth Circuit further held that the district court failed to consider adequately the interests of other states in having their consumer protection laws applied to claims brought on behalf of their residents, and erroneously concluded that California’s interests in having its law applied outweighed the interests of states with different consumer protection laws.

Following Mazza, it initially appeared that the decision precluded nationwide consumer classes as a matter of law. For example, in Kowalsky v. Hewlett-Packard Co., a purported nationwide class involving the marketing of allegedly defective printers, the court denied certification of a nationwide class, concluding that “Mazza controls and forecloses the certification of the proposed nationwide class.” Other district courts reached similar conclusions.

However, one district court recently issued a sobering reminder that Mazza did not establish a per se rule, and that the defendant still retains the burden to show that application of a single state’s law would be inappropriate under the governing choice-of-law rules. Specifically, a Central District of California court ruled in In re POM Wonderful LLC Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, that a nationwide class was appropriate because the defendant had failed to demonstrate potentially outcome-determinative differences among the various states’ consumer protection laws.

The plaintiffs in POM Wonderful alleged that Pom misleadingly claimed that its juice products provide certain health-related benefits. Relying on Mazza, the defendant argued that California law could not apply to consumers nationwide. It supported this contention with a chart that summarized each state’s consumer protection laws, including elements such as scienter, reliance and limitations periods, as well as remedies and defenses. The POM Wonderful court found this showing insufficient, and distinguished Mazza because the defendant there had “met its burden to demonstrate material differences in state law and show that other states’ interests outweighed California’s.” In contrast, the district court held that “nowhere does Pom apply the facts of this case to those laws or attempt to demonstrate, beyond citation to Mazza, that a true conflict exists,” and thus failed to carry its burden with respect to California’s choice-of-law analysis.

Thus, POM Wonderful illustrates the important lesson that Mazza did not banish multistate classes as a matter of law. Rather, to benefit from Mazza, a defendant must adequately explain why the particular claims at issue are inappropriate for nationwide treatment under governing choice-of-law principles.

Written by:

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.