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Vandehey v. Client Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 7, 2019

JACQUELYN A. VANDEHEY, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
CLIENT SERVICES, INC., a Missouri Corporation, and JOHN DOES, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jacquelyn A. Vandehey alleges Defendant Client Services, Inc. violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., by sending Plaintiff a debt collection letter that was materially false, deceptive, and misleading to an unsophisticated consumer. Plaintiff filed a motion for class certification on April 12, 2019. Plaintiff proposes to represent a class consisting of “[a]ll natural persons to whom Defendant mailed a written communication in the form of Exhibit A to an address in the State of Wisconsin on a charged-off Capital One credit card account during the Class Period which begins on October 19, 2017 and ends on November 9, 2018.” Pl.'s Br., Dkt. No. 16, at 1. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for class certification will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's allegations stem from a letter she received from Defendant dated October 30, 2017. Compl. ¶ 25, Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that this letter was a “form letter” and that it was sent to collect debts from Wisconsin residents. Pl.'s Br., Dkt. No. 16, at 2. The letter indicates that Plaintiff defaulted on a debt owed to Capital One Bank, and that, at some point, that debt was transferred to Defendant for collection. Compl. ¶¶ 27, 31. The letter provided the following itemized charges:

Balance Due at Charge-Off: $978.76
Interest: $0.00
Other Charges: $0.00
Payments Made: $0.00
Current Balance: $978.76

Id. ¶ 33; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2. On the second page of the letter, Defendant provided, “Please note that no interest will be added to your account balance through the course of Client Services, Inc. collection efforts concerning your account.” Compl. ¶ 35; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 3.

         Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of the itemized charges, the balance being described as “current, ” and the statement on the second page of the letter, Defendant has falsely implied to the unsophisticated consumer that interest and other charges could be added to the charged-off debt. Compl. ¶ 42. Plaintiff claims, therefore, that the letter is materially false, deceptive, and misleading to an unsophisticated consumer. Id. ¶ 44. Plaintiff further claims that the letter created a false sense of urgency because the letter misled unsophisticated consumers into thinking that they needed to promptly pay the debt, or face a substantial increase in the amount owed. Pl.'s Br., Dkt. No. 16, at 3. As a result of these alleged violations, Plaintiff seeks statutory damages for herself and the proposed class; a reward to Plaintiff for services on behalf of the class; attorneys' fees, litigation expenses, and costs pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(3); and other relief that may be deemed just and proper.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Rule 23 Class Certification Standard

         A plaintiff requesting class certification must satisfy the four prerequisites of Rule 23(a) as well as one of the provisions listed in Rule 23(b). Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006). Rule 23(a) requires that a plaintiff establish that “(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.P. 23(a). It is the plaintiff's burden to prove that class certification is warranted. Oshana, 472 F.3d at 513. Rule 23 is not a “mere pleading standard, ” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350 (2011), and a plaintiff must prove each ...


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