The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Haskins v. Symantec Corp., Case No. 14-16141 (9th Cir. June 20, 2016), supports the requirement that plaintiffs must allege exposure to and reliance on specific misrepresentations in order to maintain fraud claims. Plaintiff Kathleen Haskins alleged Symantec had violated unfair competition laws (UCL) by waiting until 2012 to inform customers that previous versions of its antivirus software may have vulnerabilities due to a 2006 data breach.
In June 2014, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar dismissed plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint because plaintiff had not cited any particular advertisement or representation made by Symantec upon which she relied. In an unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit agreed, holding that plaintiff “failed to plead her fraud claims with particularity as required by Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
Under California law, plaintiffs may be able to avoid pleading individualized reliance on specific misrepresentations when the alleged misrepresentations are a part of an extensive advertisement campaign. Here, however, the Ninth Circuit held that Haskins failed to establish that Symantec was engaged in such a campaign.