On Friday, May 4, 2007, the Daily Journal had another focus article on Pioneer Electronics. The article, "Leveling the Playing Field" (subscription) by H. Scott Leviant of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac, LLP, responds to recent defense-oriented articles on the decision. An excerpt:
Based on the rapid appearance of conflicting analyses, the Supreme Court decision in Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. v. Superior Court (Olmstead), 40 Cal.4th 360 (2007), likely will have significant consequences in class actions. See, e.g., Gordon E. Bosserman, "Too Much Information?" Daily Journal, March 19, 2007; Steven B. Katz, "Class-Action Dissonance," Daily Journal, March 5, 2007; Kimberly Kralowec, "Thoughts on the Class-Action Aspects of Pioneer Electronics," UCL Practitioner (www.uclpractitioner.com /2007/01/thoughts_on_the.html), Jan. 25, 2007.
The articles by Bosserman and Katz, in particular, suggest, in their attempts to downplay the significance of Pioneer Electronics, that the defense bar is rightly concerned about the long-term consequences of this decision on class defendants.
Defense-oriented commentators have seized on the facts of Pioneer Electronics as a basis for advocating that its application should be limited. In particular, commentators have suggested that the basis for the Supreme Court's decision turns uniquely on the fact that the complaining consumers in Pioneer Electronics "consented" to the disclosure of their personal contact information by their act of complaining.
However, the strength of the Pioneer Electronics decision does not support this limited construction. Its significance is greater than the sum of its facts.
A fairer construction of Pioneer Electronics is that, through this decision, the Supreme Court has provided clarification and guidance about the propriety of access by plaintiffs to potential class members. In providing that guidance, the Supreme Court reaffirmed and strengthened important principles which hold that discovery of contact information for potential class members is presumptively appropriate.