Class Actions in Consumer Cases

Posted by Clyde Hutchins | Jan 09, 2017 | 0 Comments

Class Actions in Consumer Cases

As many readers of this blog know, I practice in both Wyoming and Colorado. Because of my practice, I often run across interesting discrepancies between the two states' consumer protection laws. One of the unique differences between Wyoming and Colorado consumer law is the way that state level class actions are maintained.

Attorneys' Fees

A close reading of the consumer protection acts of the two states reveals that in Wyoming a consumer is statutorily allowed to obtain an award of attorney fees if they prevail in a consumer class action lawsuit. In contrast, there is no statutory right to fees in Colorado consumer class action lawsuits. The mechanism for recovery of fees is the common interest fund. And the opposite is true with single consumers. In Wyoming, there is no right to recover fees for an individual consumer, but there is in Colorado.

Public Interest Requirement

Another interesting twist is provided to us by Colorado jurisprudence regarding the public interest requirement. A Colorado class action lawsuit must establish that it it is being advanced in the public interest. There is no corresponding requirement in Wyoming. This can make it more difficult to advance a class action in Colorado. However, if it is a legitimate class action there is probably a way to articulate the public interest requirement.


Another unique difference is the cy pres option. In Wyoming, there is no cy pres fund in consumer class actions. The consumer protection act provides that after one year has elapsed, all undistributed funds must be returned to the party depositing the funds. By contrast, in Colorado, at least 50% of the cy pres fund goes to COLTAF and the rest can be distributed for purposes related to the class action lawsuit.

Reliance and Commonality

One of the more difficult obstacles to overcome in Colorado is that many consumer claims require a showing of reliance. This has a dramatic impact on reaching the "commonality" requirement necessary for class certification. In contrast, there is no "reliance" requirement under the Wyoming Consumer Protection Act. A violation can be established without reference to the consumer's reliance or lack thereof.

These are some of the nuances between Colorado and Wyoming state level consumer class actions. Feel free to contact Harmony Law if you have questions about consumer class actions.

About the Author

Clyde Hutchins

Clyde Hutchins is the founder of Harmony Law. Mr. Hutchins started his legal career in Cheyenne, Wyoming as a law clerk for the district court judges. Mr. Hutchins then entered private practice with a Wyoming based litigation and business law firm. Later, Mr. Hutchins went to Alaska, where he was the chief litigator for a firm that engaged in bond law, corporate law, securities law, and municipal law. The State of Wyoming hired Mr. Hutchins from Alaska to represent the State of Wyoming in the national tobacco arbitration and act as its tobacco settlement attorney. While in that position, as a hobby, he developed an enforcement unit for consumer protection for Wyoming residents. Mr. Hutchins moved to Colorado in 2016 and founded Harmony Law, LLC. Harmony Law is primarily engaged in civil litigation. It is also a general practice firm in the areas of business law, estate planning, consumer law and family law. Harmony Law is active in all state and federal courts throughout Wyoming and Colorado.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.