Yeoman v. IKEA: Federal Court Certifies Class Action Alleging Privacy Violations

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District Court Judge William Q. Hayes, of California’s Southern District, has certified a class of consumers alleging that the popular retailer, IKEA, violated California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act by asking customers to provide their ZIP codes during credit card transactions.  See Yeoman v. IKEA U.S. West, Inc., No. 11-701 (S.D. Cal. May 4, 2012) (order on motion to certify) (available here).  The Song-Beverly Act specifically prohibits asking consumers for “personal information” (which includes ZIP codes) as a condition of consummating a credit card transaction.

In opposing certification, IKEA presented evidence that many customers voluntarily provided their ZIP codes to IKEA outside of credit card transactions, thus removing those individuals from the ambit of a violation of the Song-Beverly Act.  IKEA argued that, since the class would likely include some of these customers, Plaintiffs’ proposed class definition was overbroad.  Judge Hayes rejected this argument, holding the class definition to be “not overbroad.”  Order at 5-6.

As to the often-pivotal class action prerequisite that common questions of law or fact predominate over individual issues, the court concluded that “Plaintiff has shown that common questions of law and fact predominate over other issues in this case on the grounds that IKEA’s uniform policy and practice of requesting personal identification information from customers during credit card transactions can be evaluated to determine if the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act was violated.”  Order at 13.

Finally, though it did not affect the class certification ruling, the court sought supplemental briefing as to the utility of multiple firms functioning as class counsel on behalf of the named plaintiffs and absent class members.  See Order at 15.