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By David McAfee
Dec. 8 — A federal district court Dec. 4 decertified a class of Ikea customers in California in a lawsuit accusing the company of violating California's Song-Beverly Credit Card Act by asking for their ZIP codes to complete credit card transactions.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted a motion by Ikea U.S.A. West Inc. to decertify the class but denied the defendant's bid for judgment as to one of the named plaintiffs. An individual claim by plaintiff Rita Medellin will continue to the damages phase of trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 27, according to court documents.
The judge found that Medellin established liability as to her transactions but failed to show evidence of what happened during those of others.
“Other than her own transactions, Plaintiff has failed to prove that any other violation of the Act occurred,” the court wrote. “Plaintiff has also failed to prove that an ascertainable class of some number of similarly situated persons exists who were also subjected to violations of theAct.”
Plaintiff Reid Yeoman filed suit against Ikea in California state court in March 2011, alleging one claim for violations of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1747.08. The case was removed to federal court and, seven months later, Yeoman filed an amended complaint that included Medellin as a named plaintiff.
Medellin sought class certification in January 2012 and, in May of that year, the federal district court granted it.
In February 2013, the court granted Ikea's motion to decertify in part and modified the class definition to include anyone from whom Ikea requested and recorded a ZIP code in conjunction with a credit card transaction in California from Feb. 16, 2010, to Feb. 28, 2011. Court records show that the class excluded transactions in which a ZIP code was recorded for a “special purpose.”
The court later ruled that class representatives couldn't disseminate notice of class certification to proposed members via e-mail or by posting summary notices at each cash register.
In August, the court granted Ikea's motion to separate the liability phase on Medellin's class action claim from the damages phase. The liability phase of the trial took place Nov. 12–13, and the court weighed evidence put forth by the plaintiff.
After Medellin's presentation in the liability phase, Ikea moved for judgment on the partial findings or, in the alternative, to decertify the class. The court partially granted that motion, finding that the plaintiff failed to show that other class members would remain after eliminating transactions including corporate credit cards, signature debit cards and people who provided their information for home delivery or other reasons.
Gene J. Stonebarger, founder of Stonebarger Law APC in Folsom, Calif., and counsel to the plaintiffs, said they will continue to fight Ikea on the privacy claims in California.
“The Court found that IKEA's ZIP code collection practice violated California's Song-Beverly Credit Card Act,” Stonebarger told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 8. “We look forward to enforcing the rights of our clients and the other Californians whose privacy rights were violated byIKEA.”
Representatives for Ikea didn't immediately return Bloomberg BNA's Dec. 8 requests for comment.
Stonebarger Law APC and Blood Hurst & O'Reardon LLP represented the plaintiffs. Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP represented Ikea.
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Full text of the court's opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Yeoman_v_Ikea_USA_West_Inc_No_11cv00701BASBGS_2014_BL_342508_SD_C.
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