Plaintiff settles after court denies class certification

Reductio ad Asleepum

Here’s a unique take on the free-offer class action:

Plaintiff Shirley Ambers went to Southern California mattress chain Sit ’n Sleep to purchase a king-sized mattress, drawn in by the company’s advertising that offered the mattress for free if another company beat its price on the same mattress.

When she got home with her “Simmons Beautyrest Recharge Robin luxury firm pillow top” – that’s a mouthful – she was surprised to find that while the sheets that came with the mattress fit snugly, another king-sized sheet set she purchased elsewhere fell off the mattress.

Ambers enlisted her husband to measure the mattress; he discovered that it was slightly smaller than the advertised size. And then it hit her.

The Takeaway

Ambers believed that Sit ’n Sleep was engaging in some crafty false advertising. The company, she claimed, purposefully sold mattresses with nonstandard designs to render the “free” mattress offer null and void before the sale ever took place. Should a competitor undercut its prices, Sit ’n Sleep would be able to claim that any rival’s lower price was describing a different mattress. In other words, to Ambers, it appeared there is no such thing as a “free” Sit ’n Sleep mattress.

Ambers launched a class action complaint in 2017, in which she also accused the company of falsely advertising the size of the mattress, a far more quotidian set of charges. But in either case, the suit went nowhere.

In January, the Los Angeles Superior Court denied class certification for the suit; early in September, the case settled, with the terms remaining private. It’s a shame; we would have loved to see how this particular argument played out.