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FDCPA Class Action Denied in District Court

  • Written by Steel Rose

A letter stating,“You are hereby notified that a negative report on your credit record may be submitted to a credit reporting agency if you fail to meet the terms of your credit obligations.” was the thin claim for Sandoval's hopes to represent 11,000 class action members. Judge Wigenton denied the attempt at Class Action certification in the case of Sandoval & North v. Midland Funding in the District Court of New Jersey.

"Although this Court does not consider the merits of Plaintiffs’ underlying claims at this stage, it will briefly respond to Plaintiffs’ assertions that the FDCPA is a “strict liability” statute that does not require assessing any correspondence besides the M001 Letter.4 (Br. 10.) Any trial that attempted to determine, for example, whether “Defendants . . . violated [Section 1692(e)(5)],”5 (see Compl. ¶ 46), would require inquiring into whether the Letter’s language amounted to a “threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken.” (See 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e)(5).) In turn, this assessment would necessitate determining whether the allegedly problematic language is, in fact, threatening or misleading—a question that another district court has answered in the negative. Thus, without an individualized inquiry, “the words of the [letters] in and of themselves do not appear to be deceptive” and “alone do very little to prove” Plaintiffs’ FDCPA claims."

The Record fails to clearly demonstrate that Defendants acted with a “singular” course of conduct towards both North and Sandoval, let alone towards the class at large.

In considering the requisite Rule 23 factors, this Court concludes that the putative class, as currently proposed, is not an appropriate vehicle for the adjudication of the alleged FDCPA violations. Here, common issues do not predominate, and the named Plaintiffs’ claims are atypical of the wrongs alleged on behalf of the proposed class. As a result, the class action vehicle is not the superior format for this case, and the named Plaintiffs are inadequate representatives for its claims.

CONCLUSION: Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification is DENIED.