LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – On Aug. 22, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a class action lawsuit against Omega Natural Science alleging violations of California's Automatic Renewal (ARL) Law.
In Kissel v. Omega Natural Science, Judge George H. Wu dismissed plaintiff Victoria Kissel’s claim alleging that the nutritional supplements company failed to provide her with an acknowledgment of subscription terms at the time of renewal. She claimed that under the ARL law she and others in the class were entitled to a refund of all amounts paid to Omega Natural.
The ARL law requires a business to disclose any offer and cancellation policy terms in any automatic renewal offer.
“There has been a rash of litigation over the last couple of years in which different companies have been sued under the Automatic Renewal Law for allegedly failing to include the proper information on their web sites or in email confirmations regarding the nature of the automatic renewing of subscriptions,” Brian Willen, attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR), told Legal Newsline. WSGR represented Omega Natural in the case.
In the Omega case, the plaintiff claimed the email she received after she subscribed didn’t provide an acknowledgment including the offer terms and cancellation policy.
WSGR argued that the terms were provided before the purchase was made on the Omega website as part of the sign-up process, and that the email linked to that information.
The plaintiff alleged that she suffered an "informational injury" by failing to receive the acknowledgment of offer terms. The U.S. District Court dismissed the plaintiff's claims for failure to allege concrete injury required by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins.
“The plaintiffs in these cases typically have shied away from alleging any real injury associated with any violation,” Willen said.
“In particular, they have tried to avoid making any claim that, but for the alleged violation of the statute, they would have canceled their subscriptions, not subscribed to the services in the first place, or done anything differently.
"They are trying to avoid the reality that many of the consumers who are part of the potential class might have been fully aware of what they were buying and happy with those terms.”
Many ALA law claims have been filed against companies doing business in California. Other states have versions of the ALA law, but California has the most detailed requirements and has spawned the most litigation.