Judge Certifies Class Against Defaulted Defendant in FDCPA Case

A District Court judge in Mississippi has certified a class action in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case in which the plaintiff has already obtained a default judgment against the defendant, after the defendant allegedly sent letters to the plaintiff that did not have the proper disclosures on them.

A copy of the ruling in the case of McAllister v. Lake City Credit can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff filed her suit earlier this year, accusing the defendant of sending two letters, neither of which included a validation notice or information about how to dispute the debt nor information about the amount of the debt or the creditor to whom the debt is owed.

The first letter appears to be a reminder that a payment on the debt was due in about 10 days, and the second letter was sent a month later, saying that a payment was not received and that the individual should contact the defendant to make arrangements for a payment to be made, or the defendant would have “no alternative but to recommend additional collection action.”

The defendant failed to respond to the complaint and a default judgment was entered against it this April. The plaintiff then moved to certify the class, which included anyone in Mississippi that received similar letters.

Judge Sharion Aycock of the District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi had no problem determining that the plaintiff satisfied all of the requirements to have the suit certified as a class action, even if the defendant did not respond to the complaint. Even though the circumstances of the case were “peculiar” because the defendant was in default, failure to answer a complaint is not a reason why a class can’t be certified. “To hold otherwise could essentially allow a defendant to circumvent a potential class action simply by failing to participate in the legal process — a rationale this Court cannot support,” Judge Aycock wrote.

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