SDM Defeats Motion for Class Certification in HomeAway Traveler-Fee Dispute
On March 21, 2020, Scott Douglass & McConnico secured a ruling denying class certification on behalf of vacation rental marketplace HomeAway.com, Inc. (d/b/a Vrbo), an Expedia subsidiary. The suit was brought by homeowners who previously offered their vacation properties for rent through HomeAway’s Vrbo.com website. The plaintiffs claim that homeowners and property managers suffered damages when HomeAway began charging a small service fee to travelers who book short-term rentals on HomeAway’s websites. After SDM secured an order dismissing plaintiffs’ breach-of-contract claims with prejudice, plaintiffs sought to certify their remaining claims as a class action on behalf of U.S. residents who previously listed properties for rent through HomeAway.
In its decision, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas sided with HomeAway, denying plaintiffs’ motion for class certification because plaintiffs’ claims require inquiries into individual reliance and damages that “would result in individual mini trials for each member of the class.” The court also granted HomeAway’s motion to exclude the opinion of plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness on class-wide damages. Citing testimony that SDM’s David Shank obtained at the expert’s deposition, the court found that the expert’s opinion “is not relevant to the availability of class-wide damages and therefore is not relevant to the case."
David Shank is lead counsel for HomeAway on the case. The SDM team also includes associate Sameer Hashmi and partners Michael Merriman and Steve McConnico. SDM previously secured dismissal of other, related putative class actions filed against HomeAway and Expedia.