Hooks v. Landmark Industries, Inc.

Topic(s): 
Class Actions
Consumer Justice
Case Description: 

In November 2011, David Hooks made a withdrawal from an ATM operated by Landmark Industries. At the time of the withdrawal, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) required ATM operators who imposed a fee on consumers to notify the consumer of the fee both in a prominent and conspicuous location on or at the machine and either on the screen or on paper. The ATM from which Mr. Hooks withdrew money did not contain the required on-machine fee notice. Accordingly, in January 2012, Mr. Hooks filed this case on behalf of himself and similarly situated ATM users, alleging that Landmark Industries violated EFTA’s fee disclosure requirements.

In June 2012, Landmark Industries made an offer of judgment to Mr. Hooks under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, offering him the maximum amount of statutory damages that he could recover in an individual case, but no relief to the rest of the class. Mr. Hooks did not accept the offer, which was therefore deemed withdrawn under the terms of Rule 68. In October 2012, Landmark moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the offer of judgment rendered the case moot. The court denied the motion and certified a class. In March 2014, Landmark again moved to dismiss the case based on the unaccepted Rule 68 offer. This time, the district court granted the motion, vacated the class certification, and dismissed the entire case as moot.

We represented Mr. Hooks on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. On August 12, 2015, the Fifth Circuit reversed, ruling in favor of our client. As we had argued, the court held that an unaccepted offer of judgment cannot moot a named plaintiff’s claim in a putative class action.