"It is about as clear cut a case as we have ever had," says Charles LaDuca from contingency fee law firm of Cuneo, Gilbert & LaDuca. "It is pretty clear there is a violation of the federal statute."
Groupon's "Deal of the Day" Web site sells online discount coupons that promise customers 50 to 90 percent off on everything from dinners out to haircuts. The problem according to LaDuca and the plaintiffs is the short expiry date on those coupons.
"The main issue is whether or not Groupon is selling gift certificates with expiration dates less than five years, and they clearly are," says LaDuca. "Selling these with expiration dates of 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days is clearly a violation of federal statutes, and in several instances, it is a violation of state consumer protection law."
The Groupon coupon company has sold coupons to millions of Americans but many of those people never got a chance to use them. "There are 1000s of frustrated American consumers who think they are getting a great deal with Groupon and often times it would be a great deal but they can't use the coupon quickly enough—it expires," adds LaDuca.
"Often people don't realize there is a way for them to seek redress and that is what this lawsuit is trying to do," says LaDuca.
The lead plaintiff is a Washington, D.C. man who paid $20 for a gym membership purported to be worth $305 that expired before he could use it.
The suit seeks compensatory and statutory damages as well as injunctive relief to prevent Groupon from continuing to sell coupons with short expiry dates.
LaDuca says there are other coupon companies out there that work the same way as Groupon, and his firm is investigating complaints from consumers about those companies.
Charles LaDuca is a name partner with the firm of Cuneo, Gilbert & LaDuca. He has represented clients in the areas of civil rights, consumer production and product liability law. He has combined recoveries valued at over $1 billion.