Plaintiffs, two minors who used their parents’ money to make purchases on Facebook without parental consent, brought a putative class action against the company, alleging its policy of representing purchases as non-refundable violates California law holding that contracts entered into by minors are void or voidable. Through their guardians, plaintiffs sought to certify a class of Facebook users who were minors during a four year period, along with a subclass of those who made purchases on Facebook; plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and restitutionary relief.
Before addressing certification, the court looked at whether the relevant provisions of the California Family Code had extraterritorial application. Because Facebook’s terms of service contain a choice of law provision electing California law as governing, and because the provisions of the Family Code at issue were meant both to protect minors and to prevent adults from contracting with them, the court determined that minors residing outside of the state could invoke the California statutes. The court also disposed of Facebook’s argument that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief, as they had indicated that they would make future purchases on Facebook before turning 18, and thus faced a threat of future harm.
The court then addressed certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Dealing first with Rule 23(a), the court found that both the class and the subclass were ascertainable because Facebook’s own records would be used to identify the minors. Since class members would likely number in the millions, the numerosity requirement was likewise met. Next, the court found that plaintiffs had satisfied commonality; despite the fact that the class would include some users who had already reached the age of majority, contracts they made as minors could still be found void or disaffirmed within a reasonable time, and the relief sought — a declaration that Facebook’s policy did not comply with California law — would benefit all members of the class. The court also held that plaintiffs’ claims were typical of the class, and disagreed with Facebook’s argument that plaintiffs and their guardians lacked the requisite knowledge to prosecute the case; thus, typicality and adequacy were satisfied as well.
Finally, the court looked to Rule 23(b)(2), finding that the claims for injunctive and declaratory relief were appropriate for class treatment but refusing to certify the class with regard to the claims for monetary relief. While the former claims involved a practice applicable to the class as a whole, the restitution claims seeking a refund for void or voidable transactions would require individualized inquiries and were not incidental to the declaratory and injunctive relief, as required by the Supreme Court in Walmart v. Dukes. The court therefore granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify a class for declaratory and injunctive relief, but denied certification as to their claims for restitution.