A District Court judge in Utah has approved a requested award for attorney’s fees in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, but lowered the award for the named plaintiff in the class-action case, ruling that an incentive award beyond what is statutorily allowed was not authorized under the FDCPA.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Rodriguez v. Cascade Collections can be accessed by clicking here.
Judge Jill N. Parrish of the District Court for the District of Utah approved an award of $55,000 for attorney fees, litigation costs, and class administration costs, but stopped when asked to approve an award of $1,500 for the named plaintiff in the class-action case. This case did not include any damages, Judge Parrish noted, and there is nothing in the FDCPA that allows a plaintiff to receive more than the statutory limit of $1,000 set by the law. The plaintiff cited a number of rulings allowing for an incentive award for the representative of a class, but Judge Parrish noted that none of those rulings involved cases brought under the FDCPA. The plaintiff did find one case where an incentive award was permitted in an FDCPA case, but Judge Parrish said that the case — Gross v. Washington Mutual Bank — did “not attempt to square the incentive award with the remedies permitted under the Act. Instead, the Gross court cited other district court rulings approving incentive payments and, without analysis, found that the incentive award agreed to by the parties was in line with the amounts approved in those rulings.”