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Perras v. H&R Block

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 18, 2015

Ronald Perras, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
H&R Block; HRB Tax Group, Inc.; HRB Technology, LLC, Defendants - Appellees; Missouri Attorney General's Office, Amicus on Behalf of Appellant, Chamber of Commerce of the United States; Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc., Amici on Behalf of Appellees

 Submitted April 14, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

For Ronald Perras, Plaintiff - Appellant: Norman Siegel, Bradley Wilders, STUEVE & SIEGEL, Kansas City, MO.

For H& R Block, HRB Tax Group, Inc., HRB Technology, LLC, Defendants - Appellees: James David Griffin, SCHARNHORST & AST, Kansas City, MO; Kathryn Lee, SPENCER & FANE, Overland Park, KS; Glen David Nager, Charlotte Taylor, JONES & DAY, Washington, DC; Jeffrey Simon, Derek T. Teeter, HUSCH & BLACKWELL, Kansas City, MO; Hugh R. Whiting, JONES & DAY, Cleveland, OH.

For Missouri Attorney General's Office, Amicus on Behalf of Appellant(s): Brian Bear, Assistant Attorney General, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Jefferson City, MO.

For Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Amicus on Behalf of Appellee(s): Laura A. Foggan, Jennifer Adrienne Williams, WILEY & REIN, Washington, DC; Kathryn L. Comerford Todd, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, Washington, DC.

For Product Liability Advisory Council, Incorporated, Amicus on Behalf of Appellee(s): John Beisner, SKADDEN & ARPS, Washington, DC; Hugh F. Young, Jr., PRODUCT LIABILITY ADVISORY COUNCIL, INCORPORATED, Reston, VA.

Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 915

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

In this interlocutory appeal, Ronald Perras contests the denial of his motion to certify a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.[1] Though we follow a different analysis than the district court,[2] we conclude that the court correctly denied the motion to certify. Thus, we affirm the judgment.

I. Background

In 2011, the Internal Revenue Service began regulating tax preparers who are neither attorneys nor Certified Public Accountants. Among other qualifications, the new regulations required tax preparers to pass a certification exam and obtain a preparer identification number at their cost. Defendants H& R Block, Inc.; HRB Tax Group, Inc.; and HRB Technology, LLC (collectively " H& R" ), are " the world's largest tax services provider," Our Company, H& RBLOCK.COM, http://www.hrblock.com/corporate/our-company/index.html (last visited June 15, 2015), and are headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. H& R decided to pass on the anticipated costs of complying with the new certification requirements to its customers by charging a " Tax Preparer Compliance Fee." H& R explained to customers at its tax offices and on its website that the fee would cover only the costs to comply with the new federal tax laws. In 2011, the fee was $2; in 2012, the fee was $4.[3]

In 2012 Ronald Perras, a California resident, sued H& R in a Missouri federal court on behalf of himself and a putative class of others similarly situated. Perras had paid for tax-return services from H& R in 2011 and 2012. He alleged that the amount collected from the compliance fee exceeds H& R's actual costs of complying with the new regulations. Perras sued under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (" the MMPA" ) claiming that the compliance fee was deceptive and actually a profit-generating scheme. Perras sought to define the class to include persons in all states except Missouri who purchased ...


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