KATIE VAN V. LLR, INC., ET AL, No. 21-36020 (9th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Defendant LuLaRoe, a multilevel-marketing company that sells clothing to purchasers across the United States through “fashion retailers” located in all fifty states, allegedly charged sales tax to these purchasers based on the location of the retailer rather than the location of the purchaser. LuLaRoe eventually refunded all the improper sales tax it collected, but it did not pay interest on the refunded amounts. Plaintiff, an Alaska resident who paid the improperly charged sales tax to LuLaRoe, brought this class action under Alaska law on behalf of herself and other Alaskans who were improperly charged, for recovery of the interest on the now-refunded amounts collected and for recovery of statutory damages. The district court certified the class under Rule 23(b)(3) and LuLaRoe appealed under Rule 23(f).
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order certifying the class of Alaska purchasers and remanded for further proceedings. The panel first rejected LuLaRoe’s argument that class certification was improper because the small amount of money currently owed to some class members was insufficient to support standing and the presence of these class members in the class made individualized issues predominant over class issues. The panel next rejected LuLaRoe’s assertion that some purchasers knew that the sales tax charge was improper but nevertheless voluntarily paid the invoice which contained the improperly assessed sales tax amount, and thus, under applicable Alaska law, no deceptive practice caused any injury for these purchasers. Finally, the panel held that LuLaRoe’s third argument, that class certification should be reversed because some fashion retailers offset the improper sales tax through individual discounts, had merit.