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Spiegel v. Ashwood Financial, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 11, 2017

MIKE SPIEGEL, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ASHWOOD FINANCIAL, INC., an Indiana corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO APPROVE PROPOSED AMENDED CLASS NOTICE

          LARRY J. MCKINNEY UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's, Mike Spiegel, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (“Spiegel's”), Motion to Approve Proposed Amended Class Notice and Notice of Continued Dispute Regarding Class Notice (the “Motion”). Dkt. No. 74. For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Spiegel's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 16, 2016, Spiegel received an initial form letter from Ashwood Financial, Inc. (“Ashwood”), demanding payment of a delinquent consumer debt (the “Letter”). Dkt.No. 1, ¶ 7. The Letter stated, in part,

Unless within (30) days after receipt of the first communication from this office you dispute the validity of the debt or any portion thereof, it will be assumed to be valid. If you notify this office information [sic] within the thirty (30) day period after receipt of the first communication from this office that you dispute the debt or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt and a copy of such verification, along with the creditor's name and address, will be mailed to you by this office. If you request information, within the thirty (30) day period, the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor, this office will provide you with the requested information. This is required under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Id.

         Spiegel filed his Complaint on July 26, 2016, alleging that the Letter violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692g(a)(4) & (5), by failing to state that any dispute of the debt or any request for the name and address of the original creditor must be made in writing for a debtor to obtain a verification of the debt or the name and address of the original creditor, if different than the current creditor. Id. at ¶¶ 7, 12-13. Spiegel further argues that Ashwood's failure to notify debtors that such disputes or requests must be in writing constituted unfair and unconscionable collection actions in violation of the FDCPA because whether a dispute could be made orally or in writing could determine whether a consumer wishes to dispute the debt. Id. at ¶¶ 8, 17.

         On February 2, 2017, the Court certified Spiegel's proposed class, which was defined as

All persons similarly situated in the State of Indiana from whom Ashwood attempted to collect a delinquent consumer debt, via the same form collection letter that Ashwood sent to Spiegel from one year before the date of the Complaint to the present.

Dkt. No. 52 at 8.

         On February 22, 2017, Spiegel sought the Court's approval of its initial proposed Notice of Class Action. Dkt. No. 59. The Court rejected Spiegel's initial proposed Notice of Class Action on March 23, 2017, because it failed to clearly communicate the subsections of 15 U.S.C. § 1692(a) that Ashwood allegedly violated. Dkt. No. 71 at 4.

         The Court further ordered the parties to “confer regarding a proposed Amended Notice of Class Action, which shall provide greater specificity as to the subsections serving as the basis for the Class's claims.” Dkt. No. 71 at 6.

         Despite the Court's prior Order requiring the parties to confer, id., Spiegel and Ashwood demonstrated an apparent inability to cooperate with one another in relation to class notification. See Dkt. No. 73, Ex. B; Dkt. No. 75, Ex. A; Dkt. No. 76, Ex. A & B. In light of their inability to cooperate, Spiegel and Ashwood each submitted a proposed Notice of Class Action for the Court's consideration. See Dkt. No. 73, Exs. A & C.

         Spiegel filed his Motion on April 6, 2017, in which he provides notice to the Court of the parties' continued dispute regarding class notification and requests the Court's approval of his attached proposed Amended Notice of Class Action (the “Spiegel Amended Notice”). See generally, Dkt. No. 74. Spiegel ...


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