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Rhodes v. Enhanced Recovery Co., LLC

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

October 19, 2018

PAULA RHODES individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ENHANCED RECOVERY COMPANY, LLC a Delaware limited liability company, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         This cause is now before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification [Docket No. 32], filed on June 4, 2018, pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff Paula Rhodes filed this purported class action on behalf of herself and all those similarly situated alleging that Defendant Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC violated various provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., through the sending of a form debt collection letter that failed to properly identify the original creditor as well as the creditor to whom the debt was then owed. For the reasons detailed below, we GRANT Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification.

         Factual Background

         Defendant sent Ms. Rhodes an initial form collection letter dated June 28, 2017, which provided that the company's records “indicate that your balance with Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. remains unpaid.” Exh. C to Compl. The collection letter identified the “Original Creditor” as “Kohl's Department Store, Inc.” and the “Creditor” as “Chase Bank USA N.A.” Id. The letter did not explain the difference, if any, between the “original creditor” and the “creditor, ” nor did it identify which creditor it was representing. See id. Ms. Rhodes alleges that Kohl's was never in fact the original creditor, nor was Chase Bank the creditor to whom the debt was then owed. Rather, both the “original creditor” and the “creditor” should have been identified as Capital One.

         On November 16, 2017, Ms. Rhodes filed her putative class action complaint in this court, alleging that Defendant's form collection letter violated various provisions of the FDCPA. Ms. Rhodes moved for class certification on June 4, 2018, requesting that the court certify a class with the following definition:

[A]ll persons similarly situated in the State of Indiana from whom Defendant attempted to collect a defaulted consumer debt, via the same for[m] collection letter that Defendant sent to Plaintiff, which identified the “creditor” as “Kohl's Department Store, Inc.” and the “original creditor” as “Chase Bank USA, N.A., ” when the creditor was actually Capital One [], from one year before the date of the initial Complaint [] to the present.

Pl.'s Mem. at 4.

         Legal Analysis

         I. Applicable FDCPA Provisions

         Ms. Rhodes's class action claim arises under the FDCPA. The FDCPA was enacted to address “abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692. Relevant to this case are § 1692e of the FDCPA, which regulates the use of false or misleading information in collection notices, § 1692g of the Act, which governs a debt collector's “initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, ” and § 1692f of the FDCPA, which regulates the use of unfair or unconscionable collection actions. Ms. Rhodes has brought her suit pursuant to the FDCPA, on behalf of herself and a proposed class of similarly situated individuals, alleging that Defendant's form collection letter violated the Act by misidentifying the name of the original creditor as well as the creditor to whom the debt was then owed. She is seeking recovery for “statutory damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees as provided by § 1692k(a) of the FDCPA.” Compl. at 7.

         II. Rule 23 Standard

          Rule 23 sets out four threshold requirements for certification of a class action. A district court may certify a class 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 defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 23(a). In addition, a class action is appropriate only when at least one of the following factors is present: there is a risk that prosecuting the matter in separate actions will create incompatible standards of conduct binding the defendant; adjudication of separate individual claims would prejudice the interests of potential parties not joined to the suit; the defendant has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the putative class; or the court finds that “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 23(b). Finally, the class must be “identifiable as a class, ” meaning that the “class definition[] must be definite enough that the class can be ascertained.” Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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