On March 13, 2017, Carlos Guarisma filed a class action complaint against Hyatt Equities, alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The complaint alleges that Hyatt printed more than the last five digits of customers’ credit card numbers on hotel receipts. Guarisma sought to represent a class of Hyatt hotel guests. This past week, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied Guarisma’s motion for class certification.
In the Court’s analysis, it first addressed the question of whether Guarisma had standing to assert his claims in federal court. Hyatt argued that Guarisma had not suffered an injury-in-fact sufficient to establish standing because he had only alleged a statutory violation, divorced from concrete harm. The Court disagreed. According to the Court, the provision of the FCRA at issue “creates a substantive right for consumers to have their personal credit card information truncated on receipts printed and provided to customers at the point of sale.” As a result, the Court concluded that Guarisma had plausibly alleged a violation of his right to privacy.
With respect to class certification, however, the Court found that Guarisma could not meet his burden to certify a class. In the Court’s view, Guarisma could not satisfy the ascertainability requirement of Rule 23 in that Guarisma failed to offer any evidence of how many, if any, of the 219,087 hotel guests at issue received a printed receipt. Guarisma could not identify the class members using Hyatt’s records. Further, the Court rejected Guarisma’s proposal to have the class members submit affidavits explaining whether they had received a printed receipt because it found that such a process would not be administratively feasible.
While ascertainability was the lynchpin of the Court’s Rule 23 analysis, the Court also reached several other interesting conclusions regarding Guarisma’s ability to certify a class. For example, it found that a class action was not the superior method of adjudication in this context because a person seeking statutory damages could bring an individual action. It also found that individual issues would predominate the case because each class member would need to show that he or she received a printed receipt.