A District Court judge in Washington has signed off on a final settlement in a Fair Credit Reporting Act class action that will see the plaintiff’s attorneys be awarded as much as 73% of the final amount that the defendant is willing to pay to settle the case after the plaintiff claimed it obtained a copy of his credit report without a permissible purpose when attempting to collect on a debt.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Rodriguez v. Evergreen Professional Recoveries can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff was issued a ticket, which he did not pay. The local court hired the defendant to collect on the unpaid debt. During its efforts to collect on the debt, the defendant obtained a copy of the plaintiff’s credit report. The plaintiff filed a class-action suit, alleging the defendant violated the FCRA by not having a permissible purpose for accessing credit reports.
After the defendant moved for summary judgment, a mediator helped the two sides reach a settlement agreement, which will see the defendant pay about $100,000 in attorney’s fees and damages to the 250 members of the class. Each of the members of the class — individuals who had their credit reports obtained by the defendant for the purpose of collecting a debt arising out of a driving ticket anywhere in the United States — will receive $112. The two attorneys representing the plaintiffs will receive $77,690, which Judge John Coughenour of the District Court for the Western District of Washington called “disproportionate” but “justified in this case.” Noting that the size of the class in this case is relatively small, Judge Coughenour said that in these types of cases, “these costs almost invariably consume a larger portion of the recovery than they would if the class were larger.” Attorneys can not be “discouraged” from taking on cases where the number of class members is small, Judge Coughenour noted because those “individuals would be left without a feasible option to vindicate their rights.”
The named plaintiff will receive $2,000 as an “incentive award” for his participation in the case.