In what is reported to becoming an increasingly common development in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases across the country, a District Court judge in New Jersey has temporarily terminated a motion to certify a class action and issued an order to both the plaintiff and defendant in the case to submit briefs on the issue of standing following the Supreme Court’s ruling in TransUnion v. Ramirez.
Chief Judge Freda Wolfson of the District Court for the District of New Jersey issued the order on Wednesday, giving the plaintiff until July 14 to submit its brief and the defendant until July 28 for its submission. The defendant had submitted a motion to permit supplemental briefing addressing the issue of standing a day before Judge Wolfson issued her order.
In this case — Madlinger v. Lyons, Doughty & Veldhuis (3:19-cv-21117) — the plaintiff filed suit after receiving a collection letter from the defendant attempting to recover an unpaid credit card debt. The letter included a disclosure that informed the plaintiff that his “balance may increase in the future due to charges allowed by your agreement and/or by law.” The plaintiff claimed the creditor had already charged off the debt, which meant that no additional fees, interest, or charges could be incurred. The plaintiff also claimed the defendant failed to identify the creditor to whom the debt was owed because it listed the name of the financial institution that extended the credit and not the name of the retailer or the financial institution’s relationship to the debt. The suit sought to include all consumers from New Jersey who were sent collection letters seeking to collect on debts owed to the same financial institution which included the same disclosure.
Similarly, other judges across the country have issued similar edicts as Judge Wolfson, seeking to address plaintiffs’ issue of standing in the wake of the TransUnion ruling. In that ruling, the Supreme Court ordered that every member of a class must have Article III standing in order to be eligible to recover damages.