A group of consumer class actions filed in federal courts across the country against LivingSocial were consolidated this week into a single multi-district litigation to take place in Washington, according to court records.
In an order (PDF) filed Aug. 22 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted LivingSocial's motion to consolidate the five cases—filed in federal courts in California (northern and southern districts), D.C., Florida and Washington state earlier this year—into a single action. The request was supported by the plaintiffs in all of the cases.
The multi-district litigation was assigned to U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. The panel noted that Washington was considered the most appropriate forum because LivingSocial is headquartered here.
The plaintiffs have accused LivingSocial of placing unlawful expiration dates on the “daily deals” at local businesses that are sold through the company’s Web site. The lawsuits allege violations of local consumer protection laws and the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which bars expiration dates of less than five years on gift certificates.
“LivingSocial and its retail partners offer these gift certificates with illegal expiration dates well aware that many consumers will not use the gift certificates before the expiration date,” the complaint (PDF) originally filed in D.C. states. “LivingSocial’ s deliberate and systematic use of abbreviated expiration dates harms and deceives consumers in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States.”
A LivingSocial representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
The plaintiffs are being represented by Charles LaDuca and William Anderson of Washington’s Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca and Christopher Ellis of Bolen, Robinson & Ellis of Decatur, Ill. LivingSocial is being represented by a team from Cooley’s Washington, San Francisco and San Diego offices, according to court records. None of the attorneys could immediately be reached for comment.
Similar class actions were also filed earlier this year against Living Social competitor Groupon Inc., another daily deal site. Those cases were converted in June to a multi-district litigation, which was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.