LegalZoom Class Won’t Get Off the Ground

     AUSTIN (CN) – A man who claims that LegalZoom overcharged him for his federal trademark application cannot represent a nationwide class, a Texas appeals court ruled.
     The online legal document service submits applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in one of two ways: under the Trademark Electronic Application Service, known as TEAS, or TEAS Plus.
     Simon Solotko said the filing fee for TEAS is $325 and TEAS Plus is $275, yet LegalZoom charges $325 regardless.
     He sued the company in Travis County, Texas, alleging conversion, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.
     In his motion for class certification, however, Solotko said his claims against the Los Angeles company should be decided under California law. Solotko also amended his petition to assert claims solely under California law.
     LegalZoom nevertheless chided Solotko for failing to conduct a 50-state analysis of substantive law required to certify a nationwide class. It also argued that Solotko was not an adequate class representative, among other things.
     The plaintiff appealed after the trial court denied his motion and concluded that he failed to show sufficient common issues of law nationwide.
     A three-judge panel of the Austin-based Third District Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.
     Denying class certification was not an abuse of discretion, and Solotko failed to show why a 50-state analysis was unnecessary, according to the ruling.
     “Solotko, as the class representative, bore the burden to demonstrate compliance with class action requirements, including that common questions of law predominate,” Justice Melissa Goodwin wrote for the panel. “It was his burden then to show that California law applied to the other class members. Given Solotko’s position to the trial court and the Supreme Court’s admonishment not to accept a plaintiff’s assertions ‘on faith,’ the trial court could have concluded that Solotko failed in his burden to provide the trial court with sufficient information to perform the choice of law analysis and, therefore, that he failed in his burden to show that California law applied and that common questions of law predominate.”
     Solotko likewise failed to identify problem with how the trial court described its approach to the choice-of-law analysis.
     “He contends that the proper analysis would have shown that there was no need to consider each state’s choice of law principles, that the trial court should have applied Texas choice of law principles, and that Texas principles would start with the parties’ contractual choice of California law,” the opinion states. “Even if we assume that Texas choice of law rules apply, however, analysis of other jurisdiction’s substantive laws remained necessary.”

%d bloggers like this: