consumer class settlement can’t include injunctive relief unless there’s Art. III standing to seek injunctive relief

Williams v. Reckitt Benckiser LLC, — F.4th —-, 2023 WL
2906311, No. 22-11232 (11th Cir. Apr. 12, 2023)

The court of appeals reversed approval of a settlement that
would have provided injunctive relief and up to $8 million in monetary relief
to a class of individuals who purchased one or more “brain performance
supplements” manufactured and sold by defendants. Given that the named
plaintiffs alleged that the products were worthless, there was no reasonable
probability that they’d want to buy them again, so they lacked standing to seek
injunctive relief—and apparently even to agree to it as a settlement offer,
which seems different.

I’m not a standing expert, but I don’t understand why, even
if claims for injunctive relief couldn’t be maintained, one couldn’t settle
claims for monetary relief with non-monetary remedies. The case the court of
appeals discussed, Local No. 93, International Association of Firefighters v.
City of Cleveland, 478 U.S. 501 (1986), seems very different (it’s about a
consent decree that arguably violated a rule against issuing race-conscious
court orders, and says “a consent decree must spring from and serve to resolve
a dispute within the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction”). Here, the money damages
provide the jurisdiction for the damages class, so why can’t the damages class
agree to accept injunctive relief?

I assume that next on the chopping block is cy pres remedies
for nonexhausted settlement funds, since plaintiffs can’t seek that as a remedy
to be awarded either.

FWIW this was not a great settlement in terms of injunctive
relief—it didn’t require anything meaningful—but this ground of reversal might
be worse for consumers overall if such settlements do provide meaningful relief.

from Blogger

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s