Judge Denies Class Certification in FDCPA SOL Case

A federal judge in Florida has denied a request to certify a class in a lawsuit filed against a defendant for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by seeking to collect on a time-barred debt without informing the plaintiff that making a payment would restart the statute of limitations on the underlying debt.

A copy of the ruling in Gomes v. Portfolio Recovery Associates can be accessed by clicking here.

In denying the motion for class certification, the judge also gave the plaintiff a chance to respond to a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant for which the statute of limitations had expired. The letter include several offers to either pay the debt in full or settle the debt in full and included a deadline to accept the offer. The letter did not state that the defendant could not sue because the statute of limitations had expired. The letter did include a disclosure that read: “The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it.”

The plaintiff filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging violations of the FDCPA and the Florida Consumer Collections Protection Act.

In dealing with each of the four areas required for a class to be certified, Judge Cecilia Altonaga of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that the case failed the predominance test because the plaintiff is seeking actual damages in the suit, thus “individual issues permeate the claims of putative class members seeking the recovery of actual damages, both as to the nature and content of defendant’s communications with each, as well as liability to the extent defendant is entitled to probe questions addressing causation with each such member.”

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