Firm Secures Dismissal of Class Action Challenging Change.org’s Racial Justice Commitments

December 18, 2020

Earlier this month, the Firm secured a decision from a California federal court holding that client Change.org did “no[t] breach … any contractual promise” to its users by pledging $10 million to a variety of racial justice initiatives.

Change.org provides a platform for users around the world to create, promote and sign online petitions on matters of public concern.  After the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, a Change.org petition seeking “Justice for George Floyd” gathered almost 20 million signatures, becoming what is likely the most-signed petition in history.  For a time, Change.org invited petition signers to make a monetary contribution to help promote the petition.  Change.org promised that, for each dollar contributed, it would advertise the petition to 12.5 people.  It undisputedly met—and exceeded—that advertising commitment.  In addition, given the historic movement unfolding around the petition, Change.org agreed to pledge $10 million to a variety of racial justice organizations and initiatives that aligned with the petition’s goal.

In June 2020, Plaintiff Sean Randall signed the George Floyd petition and contributed $3.00 in response to Change.org’s solicitation.  Five days later, he filed a putative class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Change.org had breached its user contracts by making the $10 million racial justice pledge.  The Firm moved to dismiss on behalf of Change.org.  On December 9, 2020, the District Court granted the Firm’s motion, dismissing Randall’s suit with prejudice.  As it found: “Change.org fulfilled its obligations under the contract.  It used funds from the Floyd Petition to advertise the Petition to millions of people … across the country,” including displaying the petition “to 39 people as a [direct] result of Mr. Randall’s contribution.”  Because Change.org had satisfied its express advertising commitments, its further decision to commit $10 million in contributed funds to racial justice work was proper and did “no[t] breach” its user agreements. 

To read Change.org’s motion to dismiss, please click here.

To read Change.org's reply brief, please click here.

To read the decision, please click here.