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Jeya Paul and Kevin Zhao Jeya Paul and Kevin Zhao

Can the consumer protection laws of a corporate defendant’s home state, where complained-of activities allegedly occurred, apply to the claims of plaintiffs from all 50 states? That is a 8th Circuit Spotlightquestion that is presently before the Eighth Circuit in two pending appeals.[1] And because a court typically denies certification of a nationwide class when it finds that different states’ laws apply to different plaintiffs, the answer to that question could significantly affect consumer protection class actions.

The defendants in Hudock v. LG Electronics U.S.A., appealed a decision from the District of Minnesota certifying a nationwide class of consumers.[2] The Hudock decision held that, as a matter of constitutional due process and Minnesota’s choice-of-law rules, the law of each corporate defendant’s home state could be applied to claims against it by plaintiffs from all 50 states.[3] One day later, conducting a similar due-process and choice-of-law analysis, a different judge in the same district ruled in Johannessohn v. Polaris Industries  that the law of a plaintiff’s state of residency applies to that plaintiff’s consumer protection claims and denied class certification.[4] Plaintiffs appealed the Polaris decision. Although class certification and choice-of-law issues are generally fact intensive, the Eighth Circuit’s decisions on these appeals will be of interest to retail industry groups, consumer protection advocates, and corporate defendants, as reflected by the number of amicus briefs filed in the appeals.

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