The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s ruling denying a plaintiff who agreed to settle a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuit against a defendant from representing a class in the same suit.
A copy of the ruling in the case of McClain v. Dalen Patrick Hanna, Hanna Law PLLC, Hanna LLP can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff sued the defendant, bringing both individual and class claims under the FDCPA. Less than a week after the suit was filed, the defendant offered the plaintiff a settlement and it was accepted. The settlement allowed judgment to be entered in the plaintiff’s favor “as to all counts” of his complaint and gave him full damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees. While he was accepting the settlement offer, the plaintiff also filed a motion to certify the class, in order to preempt a mootness ruling. The District Court judge found the class claims to be moot and dismissed them. The plaintiff argued that the terms of the settlement indicated that judgment needed to be entered in his favor so the District Court judge amended his ruling to say just that.
The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the settlement did not render his class claims as moot. The terms of the original settlement did not give the plaintiff any right to pursue his class claims on appeal.
The Appeals Court, following the doctrine that parties may not challenge a judgment to which they have consented, especially if the plaintiff did no expressly reserve a right to pursue class claims when settling an individual claim.
“So when McClain agreed to judgment on ‘all counts,’ that judgment unambiguously includes his class claims,” the Sixth Circuit wrote. “Thus, McClain has waived any further interest in his class claims and may not pursue those claims on appeal.”