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Walker v. Financial Recovery Services

This case concerns whether an unaccepted Rule 68 offer of judgment moots an individual plaintiff’s claim and prevents her from pursuing a class action on behalf of a class to which the defendant has offered no relief. The plaintiff in the case filed claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated persons who had received similar calls from the defendant. The defendant made an offer of judgment to the plaintiff that would have provided her the maximum relief for the number of calls that it believed had been made to her while providing no relief to other class members. Although she did not accept the offer, the district court held that it mooted her claims and the class claims as well, and required dismissal of the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court, however, simultaneously entered judgment in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of the unaccepted offer.

The appeal was stayed by the 11th Circuit pending its decisions in Keim v. ADF Midatlantic and Stein v. Buccaneers Limited Partnership, which also involved the Rule 68/mootness issue. Following its published decision in Stein, which held that a Rule 68 offer does not moot and individual’s claim or a class action, the court reinstated a briefing schedule. The defendant contended that Stein is distinguishable because the court in that case did not enter judgment in the amount of the offer. Plaintiff Walker’s position was that Stein is controlling and that the decision makes clear that a district court lacks authority to enter judgment on an unaccepted offer.

The 11th Circuit ruled that a Rule 68 offer does not moot a class action even when the defendant unequivocally consents to entry of judgment on the offer.