Cote denies class certification in Authors Solutions case

Cote denies class certification in Authors Solutions case

A lawsuit accusing Author Solutions of seeking to make money from authors, rather than for authors, has been denied class certification by a judge in the US.

New York-based law firm Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart filed a class action lawsuit against Author Solutions in New York in April 2013. The case has survived various motions to dismiss, and the plaintiffs had filed for class certification, which would have allowed a few people to sue Author Solutions on behalf of a larger group.

However in a ruling made last week (1st July), Judge Denise Cote, at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, denied class certification in the case of Mary Simmons and Jodi Foster versus Author Solutions, saying that certain requirements had not been met.

Cote said that there was not enough evidence that all customers of Author Solutions, which she refers to as AS, were exposed to claims about the company that could mislead them.

Cote said: “The representations about which plaintiffs complain…are by any measure soft. AS’s statements about its marketing services straddle the line between representation and puffery, making it all the more difficult to conclude that generalised proof could demonstrate that these statements would likely deceive a member of the public.” She continued: “The interactions between AS and authors came through a combination of internet information, conversations (often by telephone) with salespeople, and written agreements. Plaintiffs allege no misrepresentations in the contract terms themselves, and, due to the lack of a sales calls script, do not base their theory of class-wide liability on individual conversations either; plaintiffs are left with only the website representations. Those representations, however, hardly drive the conclusion that a uniform scheme to defraud victimised the class.”

Cote also said that a contract between Author Solutions and Foster did not place any obligations on Author Solutions to market her work, although it gave them the right to do so.

The case against Author Solutions also does not provide evidence of a longterm, fraudulent advertising campaign as in some other cases which have been granted class certification in the past.

Cote also said the plaintiffs’ claims that Author Solutions uses its website as a “script” during conversation with customers and prospective customers was not based on enough evidence.

Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart could now lodge an appeal against Cote's decision.

The law firm has also filed two further suits in Indiana, where Author Solutions is based.

The second class action suit was filed in November 2014 in the District Court of the South District of Indiana, while the third was filed in the same court in March this year.