Class Certification Denied in FDCPA Case Involving Miller Safe Harbor Language

A District Court judge in Michigan has denied a motion to certify a class action against a defendant that was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by including language in a collection letter mentioning that late fees and interest may alter the total amount owed.

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

The plaintiff received a collection letter that included the following passage:

Because of interest, late charges, and other charges that may vary from day to day, the amount owed on the day you pay may be greater. Hence, if you pay the amount shown above, an adjustment may be necessary after we receive your payment, in which event we will inform you.

The plaintiff contacted the creditor and said she was the victim of identity theft. The creditor investigated the claim, found no evidence of identify theft, and placed the debt back with the defendant, which sent an identical letter to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff sought to include a class of individuals living in Michigan who received a letter from the defendant that included the same language “in an attempt to collect a credit card debt referred by a credit card company.”

However, because the attempted class included individuals whose debts had not yet been charged off by a creditor, there might be late charges, interest, and other charges that accrue on an account until it is charged off. Therefore, the plaintiff “tries to capture an entire group of people as plaintiffs for whom the practice of charging additional interest and fees may be completely legal under their own cardmember agreements.”

Thus, the plaintiff’s potential class could not satisfy the commonality, numerosity, or typicality components of the class action certification, Judge Victoria Roberts of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, ruled.

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