A telecom company’s $100 check offered to a customer who lost service for two weeks prevented him from bringing a class action against the company, an Illinois Appellate Court ruled this month. The company sent the customer a $100 check to cover the portion of his bill for the period of lost service, which totaled $53.84 plus interest. The check was sent to the customer just over three weeks before the customer filed a motion to certify his lawsuit as a class action.
The Appellate Court, in agreeing with the lower court, held that a class action is moot if the defendant settles the claim prior to the motion for class certification. The customer unsuccessfully attempted to argue that he was offered the check as attempt to “pick off” the face of the class action, with the court holding that this “pick off” argument was previously struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court. This case is interesting in that a plaintiff may settle a case without ever realizing it and a defendant can creatively scuttle a lawsuit with only a few bucks.