Class actions have again hit the headlines after a US judge ruled that Universal Studios can be sued for false advertising after fans of Ana de Armas filed a class action lawsuit after renting the movie Yesterday. It is claimed by the plaintiffs that it was Ana de Armas appearing in a trailer for the movie which led to them parting with their cash to rent the movie in the first place. But the fans renting the movie later found that the actress had been cut from the final edit.

While the original plaintiffs, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza, paid $3.99 to rent the movie, the sum pursued is $5m as other fans are involved in the class action filing.

The studio sought to dismiss the action by reference to protections under the US constitution's First Amendment relating to free speech, but a US District Judge rejected that and came to the view that a movie trailer is subject to the state of California's False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law. In essence the judge was convinced that a trailer was a commercial advertisement "designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie".

The ongoing concern is that this may leave studios or the like facing further claims if other movies do not reflect what the trailers portray by way of advertisement for the main attraction, with consumers then going on to join classes in reclaiming costs etc on rentals.

While this US case may now move on to discovery and a motion for class certification, we are left wondering if such an action would get off the ground in Scotland? With only an opt-in system at play so far under the Scottish group proceedings rules, would consumers here go to the lengths of joining into a group for comparatively small amounts of money? It is possible, but yet again the US class action system could be highlighting growing trends for consumers faced with product outcomes they don’t like by taking corporates to task.

Our previous blog outlines what class actions mean for Scotland.


Stephen Goldie

Managing Partner

Craig Watt

Partner & Solicitor Advocate