The Justiciability of State Consumer Protection Claims in Federal Courts: A Study of Named Plaintiffs who Cease Using the Disputed Product yet Seek Injunctive Relief

April 30, 2013

In recent years, there has been an increase in consumer protection class action litigation in federal courts. These suits arise from a group of consumers who have felt deceived by a particular product, ceased using that product, and then tried to sue a defendant manufacturer through state consumer protection statutes. Often, these individuals seek to enjoin the defendant’s use of an allegedly unfair business practice, such as “all natural” labeling. Since the plaintiff no longer uses the product, however, many district courts have refused to recognize that they may be at risk of a future injury and have held that these plaintiffs do not have standing to seek an injunction in the federal forum.

his Note discusses the tension between the purposes and aims of state consumer protection statutes and the heavily ingrained—yet vague—Supreme Court precedent regarding Article III standing. While many lower courts continue to conservatively interpret the Court’s decisions on standing, some California district courts have bucked this trend and begun granting consumer plaintiffs standing. This Note ultimately concludes that consumer classes must begin relying on individuals who continue to use the disputed product throughout litigation or redefine the scope of their future injury to better conform to current Supreme Court precedent.

May 2013

No. 6