Beam defeats ‘Skinnygirl’ class certification bid

Chadbourne and Parke won a victory for Beam on 9 January 2013, when US district judge J Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York denied plaintiff Christopher Rapczynski’s motion to certify a putative nationwide class of ‘Skinnygirl Margarita’ purchasers.

The case is one of several brought in federal district courts around the US that raise claims regarding Beam’s ‘Skinnygirl Margarita’.

Plaintiff sought to represent what he claimed were millions of ‘Skinnygirl Margarita’ consumers who allegedly purchased the product under false impressions about its nature. Plaintiff alleged claims under several New York State statutes, as well as express warranty and promissory estoppel theories, and claimed damages of $10 million.

During her deposition of the plaintiff, Chadbourne partner Mary Yelenick elicited critical testimony regarding, among other things, the facts and motivations surrounding the plaintiff’s own purchasing decision.

Judge Oetken repeatedly cited this testimony in his decision denying the motion, finding that plaintiff and his claims did not meet the legal requirement of typicality, which is a prerequisite to class certification. Judge Oetken observed that ‘defences specific to [plaintiff’s] own, individual purchase’ would become the focus of the litigation, thus rendering class certification improper. Judge Oetken also noted substantial questions regarding whether plaintiff could meet his burden of proving causation.

The Chadbourne team on the case included Donald Strauber, Mary Yelenick, Michael Samalin and Stacey Trimmer in New York and Robin Ball and Susan St Denis in Los Angeles.