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May 17 — A Florida false-advertising law's objective standards for deception, causation and damages make a suit over safety-rating stickers on General Motors Co. cars amenable to class treatment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled.
An “essential question” common to each class member predominates over individualized issues, the appeals court said May 17, affirming a lower court's class-certification order.
That question is whether a display sticker on 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans inaccurately showing three five-star crash-test ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when no ratings were available for the cars, constituted a deceptive act under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the court said.
Proof of actual reliance isn't necessary for an FDUTPA claim, the court said, citing Florida caselaw.
“Moreover, because the injury is not determined by the plaintiffs' subjective reliance on the alleged inaccuracy, causation and damages may also be amenable to class-wide resolution,” Judge Stanley Marcus wrote for the panel.
Damages are assessed by comparing two objective measures, the court said: the market value of the new vehicle with perfect ratings in the three categories and its market value without any safety ratings.
“Unlike the calculation of an individual consumer’s direct pecuniary loss, which would limit the plaintiff to the difference of what she paid and the actual value received, the FDUTPA ‘benefit of the bargain' model provides a standardized class-wide damages figure,” the appeals court said.
Judges Charles Reginald Wilson and Robin S. Rosenbaum also served on the panel hearing the interlocutory appeal.
Liggio Benrubi PA, Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP and Burlington & Rockenbach PA represented the plaintiffs.
Jones Walker LLP represented GM.
To contact the reporter on this story: Martina S. Barash in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
The opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Geri_Carriuolo_et_al_v_General_Motors_Company_Docket_No_1514442_1.
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