On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, the United States Supreme Court resolved the split between Circuits over whether an unaccepted offer of judgment, that would provide complete relief to a plaintiff, destroys a plaintiff’s standing under Article III of the Constitution, and thus moots a plaintiff’s claim. Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Jose Gomez, Slip Op. No. 14-857 (Jan. 20, 2016). The Court held that it did not.
We hold today, in accord with Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that an unaccepted settlement offer has no force. Like other unaccepted contract offers, it creates no lasting right or obligation. With the offer on the table, and the defendant’s continuing denial of liability, adversity between the parties persists.
As we have previously reported, while there was a split in authority, some courts had held that an unaccepted offer of judgment could moot a plaintiff’s claim, both in individual claims as well as in putative class actions. Under the Court’s decision, defendants can no longer preemptively attempt to eliminate a plaintiff’s claim, whether an individual claim or a putative class action, by making an offer of judgment to a plaintiff.
A copy of the Supreme Court’s decision is available here.