District Court grants motion to deny class certification where plaintiff not a victim of the alleged FDCPA violation

United States District Court Judge M. James Lorenz (Southern District of California) granted a defense motion to deny class certification.  Mansfield v. Midland Funding, LLC, 2011 WL 1212939 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 30, 2011).  Plaintiff, on behalf of a putative class, alleged that defendants were routinely filing and assisting in the litigation of lawsuits to collect time-barred consumer credit card debt incurred primarily for personal, family or household purposes, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.  If true, that is very shady conduct.  But wait!  We have a problem:

Midland's claim against Mansfield was timely as determined by the Arizona state court. That judgment as not been challenged. Because Midland's claim against Mansfield was found to be timely, the action was not filed on a time-barred debt and plaintiff has not suffered an injury in fact or an injury based on defendants' filing of their action against him in the Arizona court. Without a claim, Mansfield may not represent others who could have such a claim.

Slip op., at 3.  The Court looked no further at certification requisites, given that the threshold issue of standing could not be satisfied.

in brief: service of a complaint on a consumer is a "communication" under the FDCPA

While I can't say that this will ultimately prove to be a class issue, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is receiving increased attention in recent years, particularly as an increase in the number of consumers in economic distress increases their interactions with debt collectors.  It is with this in mind that I pass on one sentence from a case involving the FDCPA.  In Donohue v. Quick Collect, Inc., (9th Cir. January 14, 2009), the Ninth Circuit held:  "We . . . conclude that a complaint served directly on a consumer to facilitate debt-collection efforts is a communication subject to the requirements of §§ 1692e and 1692f."  Slip op., at 1006.