Floyd v. Sallie Mae, Inc.
Robert Floyd got a new cell phone and a new problem: The phone number had previously belonged to someone who owed student loan money that Sallie Mae was trying to collect. Sallie Mae made robocalls and left prerecorded messages on Mr. Floyd’s phone in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. When Mr. Floyd sued, Sallie Mae made an “offer of judgment” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, offering to allow judgment to be entered against it for less than Mr. Floyd was claiming. When Mr. Floyd rejected the offer, Sallie Mae moved to dismiss his action as “moot,” on the ground that its offer would have given him all he could recover in the case (even though he claimed to be entitled to more). The district court agreed with Sallie Mae and dismissed the case as moot. Public Citizen Litigation Group represented Mr. Floyd on appeal, together with his trial counsel, Scott Owens. We argued that unaccepted Rule 68 offers, by their nature, cannot moot claims because they provide no relief whatsoever, and that, in any event, an offer for less than what the plaintiff seeks cannot moot his claim because determining the adequacy of such an offer itself requires resolution of the merits of the case. The Eleventh Circuit held that the offer did not moot the claims, and remanded for further proceedings.