Skip to Content

Supreme Court Rules Against Using Settlement Offers to Moot Class Actions

In Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, a decision released in January, a majority of the United States Supreme Court held that an unaccepted Rule 68 offer of judgment by a defendant cannot moot a putative class action.

Campbell-Ewald arose in the context of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit. The TCPA provides for a maximum of $1,500 in statutory damages per violation and does not provide for attorney’s fees. Thus, the statutory damages this plaintiff could obtain were clear.  The defendant offered to settle the case for $1,503, which was more than the plaintiff could receive as statutory damages for his claim. The plaintiff declined the offer.

The defendant then argued that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the offer mooted the plaintiff’s individual claim, and that because the plaintiff had not yet moved for class certification, the class claims were also mooted. The Campbell-Ewald majority adopted Justice Kagan’s analysis from her dissent in the court’s 2013 Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk decision. There, Justice Kagan noted that an unaccepted offer cannot moot a case because "[a]s every first-year law student learns, the recipient’s rejection of an offer ‘leaves the matter as if no offer had ever been made.’"  

The majority reserved the question of whether the result would differ if the defendant had deposited the full amount of the plaintiff’s individual claim into an account payable to the plaintiff and the trial court had entered judgment for the plaintiff in that amount. In the case before the court, that question was "hypothetical." 

On its face, the opinion leaves an open question: Would an actual tender of payment by certified check to the court’s registry, rather than a Rule 68 offer of judgment, moot the individual and class claims?

Authored By
Related Practices
Consumer Finance
©2024 Carlton Fields, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.


The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.