In Franco v. Allied Interstate LLC, No. 13 Civ. 4503, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47077 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 2, 2014), the named plaintiff sued the defendant for sending him a debt collection letter that implied he could face garnishment of his wages if he did not pay his debt. He did not allege any actual damages, relying instead on the FDCPA’s statutory damages provision.

In response, the defendant made a Rule 68 offer of judgment of $1,501 plus reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees as allowed by the court, one dollar more than the statutory maximum damages the plaintiff could receive. … Continue Reading

 Ellen Delgado sued collection agency Collecto, Inc., accusing it of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by sending her an improper debt collection letter. After she filed suit (but before she moved for class certification), Collecto made an offer of judgment for Ms. Delgado’s full damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. It then, some minor procedural maneuvering aside, moved to dismiss the case as moot.

These facts should sound familiar to readers of this blog; they’re part of the ongoing battle over whether a defendant can moot a named plaintiff’s claims in a class action by offering Continue Reading

Andrew Marshall was an employee of the City of Spokane, Washington. After a minor work-related injury to his eye, he wound up in a billing dispute with the company that ran the emergency room he visited. So he did what many of us have felt the urge to do after diving into a morass of paperwork surrounding a minor medical claim: he filed a class-action lawsuit against the insurance company and the medical company, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. He sought to represent a class of employees of the City of Spokane. The case, … Continue Reading

On October 3, 2007, Joyce Huntley—who, like many Americans at one time or another—owed some creditors some money–picked up her phone to learn that if she did not immediately wire money for the debt via Western Union to The Law Office of Richard Clark, her wages would be garnished. The call was placed by Shirley Bratton, a then-employee of the Law Office of Richard Clark, and the threat violated the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").

Huntley filed a lawsuit, and added allegations that it would be appropriate for class treatment. Bratton had worked for The Law … Continue Reading

Certain kinds of class actions – those predicated on technical violations of a federal statute like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) – provide a steady revenue stream for some plaintiffs’ lawyers, while plaguing some defendants. It can be difficult to oppose certification of these suits, because technical statutory violations may not be associated with many variations in proof. It becomes easier to defend these suits when the plaintiffs don’t do the work of establishing that the violation actually occurred.

Take the case of DeKoven v. Plaza Associates, Nos. 09-2016 & 09-2249 (7th Cir. Mar. 17, 2010). … Continue Reading