A District Court judge in Washington has remanded a class-action lawsuit back to state court because the plaintiff removed any claims related to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in an amended complaint and because the defendant was unable to convince the judge to keep the case in federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act.
The Background: The plaintiff originally filed suit in Washington state court earlier this year, which the defendant removed to federal court. In the original complaint, the plaintiff accused the defendant of violating the FDCPA and state law in Washington when it closed an account and returned it to the creditor after being notified by the plaintiff that he was now being represented by an attorney.
- In a letter sent to the plaintiff before the plaintiff hired an attorney, the defendant stated that the plaintiff’s driver’s license might be suspended if the debt was not paid.
- The complaint accused the defendant of violating Section 1692e and 1692f of the FDCPA by attempting to collect a debt not expressly permitted by law and for making false or misleading representations.
- The defendant removed the case to federal court on the grounds that the plaintiff alleged a federal law had been broken.
- The plaintiff then filed an amended complaint, seemingly identical to the original complaint except it removed any allegation that the defendant violated the FDCPA, and sought to have the case remanded back to state court.
The Ruling: Under the Class Action Fairness Act, a lawsuit can remain in federal court if there at least 100 members of the class and at least one plaintiff is diverse in citizenship from any defendant. The defendant attempted to argue that this case meets that requirement because the plaintiff and defendants are residents of different states, but the defendant failed to identify its citizenship in a way to satisfy Judge Lauren King of the District Court for the Western District of Washington.
- Also, because the case is relatively new and no dispositive rulings have yet been issued, there is no reason to keep it in federal court, Judge King ruled.