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Taylor v. Alltran Financial, LP

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

September 17, 2018

EDWARD TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLTRAN FINANCIAL, LP, LVNV FUNDING, LLC, Defendants.

          ENTRY

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Edward Taylor alleges that Defendants sent him and over 200 others a form debt collection letter which failed to effectively identify the current creditor, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et. seq. Mr. Taylor now seeks to certify a class consisting of everyone who received the same form letter from February 1, 2017, to the present. [Filing No. 32.] Defendants oppose class certification, arguing that Mr. Taylor has failed to satisfy the requirements set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. But Defendants ultimately demand far more of Mr. Taylor than is required by Rule 23. For the reasons described below, the Court GRANTS Mr. Taylor's Motion.

         I.

         Background

         This lawsuit arises out of a dunning letter, dated December 12, 2017, that Mr. Taylor received from Defendant Alltran Financial, LP (“Alltran”). [Filing No. 33-1.] In relevant part, the letter provided as follows:

         (Image Omitted)

[Filing No. 33-1 at 1.] Three features from this letter are relevant to Mr. Taylor's lawsuit. The letter listed as the “Original Creditor” nonparty Springleaf Financial Services Inc., [Filing No. 33-1 at 1], from whom Mr. Taylor had previously borrowed money, [seeFiling No. 1 at 3.] Next, the letter stated that the “Current Creditor” was Defendant LVNV Funding, LLC (“LVNV”). [Filing No. 33-1 at 1.] Finally, below this information, the letter explained that “Alltran Financial, LP has been contracted to lead and represent in the collection of the judgment awarded on your Springleaf Financial Services Inc. account.” [Filing No. 33-1 at 1.] Approximately 200 consumers received form dunning letters identical to the one sent to Mr. Taylor. [Filing No. 42-1 at 3 (identifying class of 218 individuals); Filing No. 33-2 at 20 (identifying class of 216 individuals).]

         On February 1, 2018, Mr. Taylor brought suit on behalf of himself and others who received the same dunning letter, alleging that the letter he received from Defendants failed to effectively identify the current creditor, in violation of the FDCPA. [Filing No. 1.] On June 1, 2018, Mr. Taylor filed his Motion for Class Certification. [Filing No. 32.] Mr. Taylor's Motion is fully briefed, and the issue of class certification is ripe for determination.

         II.

         Discussion

         Mr. Taylor seeks to certify the following class:

[A]ll persons similarly situated in the State of Indiana from whom Defendants attempted to collect a defaulted consumer debt allegedly owed for a Springleaf Financial Services account, via the same form collection letter that Defendants sent to Plaintiff, from one year before the date of this Complaint [February 1, 2017] to the present.

[Filing No. 32 at 4 (docket citation omitted).] In support, Mr. Taylor argues that this case satisfies the requirements of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(3), such that resolution of his claim on a class-wide basis is appropriate. [Filing No. 33.]

         Class actions serve an important purpose in modern civil litigation. As the Seventh Circuit has explained:

The class action is an ingenious procedural innovation that enables persons who have suffered a wrongful injury, but are too numerous for joinder of their claims alleging the same wrong committed by the same defendant or defendants to be feasible, to obtain relief as a group, a class as it is called. The device is especially important when each claim is too small to justify the expense of a separate suit, so that without a class action there would be no relief, however meritorious the claims.

Eubank v. Pella Corp., 753 F.3d 718, 719 (7th Cir. 2014). In order to maintain a class action, the proponent must satisfy the requirements of Rule 23. In evaluating whether a class should be certified, the Court may not merely accept as true the allegations of the complaint, but instead must “make whatever factual and legal inquiries are necessary” to resolve contested issues. Szabo v. Bridgeport Machs., Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 676 (7th Cir. 2001). First, the named plaintiff must demonstrate that the putative class satisfies all four prerequisites set forth in Rule 23(a):

[A member of a class may sue] on behalf of all members only if:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or ...

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