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Court strips electronic bingo losers of class certification


An appeals court has rescinded the class certification granted to plaintiffs who had filed a lawsuit seeking the return of money they had lost playing electronic bingo, citing a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Plaintiffs in the case contended the money they had lost while playing on the electronic bingo machines at Shorter, Ga.-based Macon County Greyhound Park Inc. between September 2009 and February 2010 constituted illegal gambling activity, according to the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Walter Bussey et al. v. Macon County Greyhound Park.

The U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Ala., granted the plaintiffs class certification status, and the appellate court agreed to reconsider the ruling with respect to defendant manufacturers whose machines were used at the park: Austin, Texas-based Multimedia Games Inc., Las Vegas-based International Game Technology Inc. and Las Vegas-based Bally Gaming Inc.

The unanimous ruling Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit, cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Comcast Corp. et al. v. Caroline Behrend et al., which, observers say, requires plaintiffs to provide more proof of damages before they can win class certification.

“We find that the district court abused its discretion in concluding that the proposed class was adequately defined and clearly ascertainable, and that issues common to all class members would predominate over issues affecting on individual members,” said the appellate ruling.

The ruling said while the District Court acknowledged the decision, “it nonetheless failed to conduct the ‘rigorous analysis’ required by (the Comcast) decision — instead deferring resolution of important questions bearing on the class certification analysis to the merits stage of the case. That failure cannot be overlooked,” said the ruling in remanding the case for further proceedings.