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Parnell v. FanDuel, Inc.

Supreme Court of Arkansas

December 19, 2019

Chad PARNELL, an Arkansas Citizen on Behalf of Himself and All Other Arkansas Citizens Similarly Situated, Appellant
v.
FANDUEL, INC., Appellee

          Rehearing Denied February 6, 2020

Page 316

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 317

          APPEAL FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26CV-17-639], HONORABLE LYNN WILLIAMS, JUDGE

         Steel, Wright, Gray, by: Scott Poynter, of Counsel, and Nate Steel, Little Rock, for appellant.

         Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, Little Rock, by: William A. Waddell, Jr., for appellee.

         OPINION

         SHAWN A. WOMACK, Associate Justice

          Appellant Chad Parnell filed a class-action lawsuit against FanDuel, Inc., in the Garland County Circuit Court, alleging violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and unjust enrichment on behalf of himself and the putative class. The circuit court dismissed Parnell’s complaint and the class-action allegations. We affirm.

          I. Background

          Parnell opened an account with FanDuel, which offers Internet-based fantasy sports games on its website, fanduel.com. On June 22, 2017, Parnell filed a class-action lawsuit in the circuit court alleging that FanDuel ran a series of advertisements promoting its fantasy sports games, which informed new subscribers that if they deposited $200 into their account, FanDuel would match their deposit with $200. In his complaint, Parnell alleged that this advertising was illegal because FanDuel did not match his $200 deposit when he opened his account. Parnell alleged violations of the ADTPA and unjust enrichment on behalf of himself and the putative class. Parnell submitted the following proposed class definition:

All citizens of the State of Arkansas that subscribed to FanDuel’s service by opening an account with a sum of $200.00 from August 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015 (the "Class Period"). Excluded from the Class are the presiding judge, and his/her immediate family members, and Defendant’s officers, directors, employees, and agents.

          FanDuel subsequently moved to dismiss the action based upon an amendment to the ADTPA passed by the General Assembly in 2017. The amendment, then House Bill 1742, made two alterations to the existing law pertinent to this case. First, it changed the remedy available to civil litigants to the recovery of their "actual financial loss." Second, the amendment prohibited private class actions under the ADTPA. 2019 Ark. Acts 986, § § 2, 3. In its motion to dismiss, FanDuel argued that Parnell’s complaint failed to allege an actual loss and also that the class allegations could no longer be maintained under the amended ADTPA. The circuit court agreed with FanDuel and dismissed both Parnell’s complaint and the class allegations.

          II. Standard of Review ...


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