Judge Denies Class Certification After Plaintiff Answers ‘I’m Not Sure’ When Asked Why Suit Was Filed

A federal judge in Illinois has denied a motion to certify a class-action lawsuit against a collection agency accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the named plaintiff does not know what a class-action lawsuit is and when asked during a deposition why the lawsuit was filed, answered “I’m not sure.”

A copy of the ruling in Ocampo v. GC Services Limited Partnership can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant related to an unpaid account with the Dish Network, seeking to collect $523.70. The collection letter included the statement, “The balance that has been placed in collections may include the cost of your leased DISH Network equipment.” The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the statement was not clear whether the amount owed included the equipment or not. The letter also stated, “While we have not reported this account to any consumer reporting agency as of the date of this letter, our client has authorized us to report your account to the three major consumer reporting agencies unless we are able to resolve your account.” The plaintiff alleged the defendant never intended to report the debt to the credit bureaus.

The plaintiff accused the defendant of violating Section 1692g(a)(1) by not properly stating the amount owed and Section 1692e, which prohibits making false or misleading representations when attempting to collect on a debt. The suit filed by the plaintiff sought to include all residents of Illinois who received a letter from the defendant that included those two statements.

But once he got to the part of his analysis related to the adequacy portion of certifying a class action, Judge Robert Dow of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, looked over the plaintiff’s deposition and found him lacking a “fundamental understanding of the class action process.”

When asked during his deposition if he knew what a class action was, the plaintiff responded, “I’m not sure exactly, like everything and so * * *.” When asked if he knew what the responsibilities and duties a class representative owed to the class, the plaintiff answered, “No.” When asked why he filed the lawsuit, the plaintiff answered, “I’m not sure.”

The judge gave the plaintiff until Jan. 7, 2019 to file a motion for substitution.

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