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Richard Mansfield, On Behalf of v. Midland Funding

March 30, 2011

RICHARD MANSFIELD, ON BEHALF OF
HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MIDLAND FUNDING, LLC, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DENY CLASS CERTIFICATION ) [doc. #35]; DENYING MOTION FOR ) LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED ) COMPLAINT [doc. #62] and DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION [doc. #64]

Currently pending are defendants Midland Funding, LLC and Midland Credit Management, Inc.'s ("Midland") motion to deny class certification and plaintiff Richard Mansfield's motions for leave to file a first amended class action complaint and for class certification.

Background

On February 24, 2009, plaintiff filed the above-captioned case as a national, consumer credit class action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et to obtain monetary, declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiff alleges in the operative complaint that:

¶ 2. Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated seeks actual damages, a declaratory judgment, statutory damages and other relief against Defendants arising from their routine practice of filing and assisting in the litigation of lawsuits to collect time-barred consumer credit card debt incurred primarily for personal, family or household purposes.

¶ 12. In violation of the FDCPA, Defendants routinely engage in deceptive debt collection by regularly filing and litigating consumer credit card debt collection actions where the date of last payment is outside the statutory limitations period.

¶ 13. Defendants, as a matter of standard practice, file suit without having first determined after a reasonable inquiry that the statute of limitations has not run. Comp. at 1, 3 (emphasis added).

The proposed class is defined in the complaint as follows:

All persons Midland filed a lawsuit against to collect an alleged credit card debt incurred primarily for personal, family or household purposes where Midland's records do not show that a payment was made within the applicable statute of limitations prior to the filing of the action and which lawsuit was pending at any time from and after February 24, 2008 (the "Class" or "Class Members").

Comp, at 4-5, ¶ 23.

Plaintiff's action here is based on a 2008 Arizona state court action Midland filed against Mansfield alleging that he defaulted on a credit card agreement when he failed to make payment. In a counterclaim alleging a violation of the FDCPA, Mansfield contended that Midland's action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Mansfield dismissed the FDCPA counterclaim in the Arizona action. The Arizona case proceeded to trial with the finding, inter that Midland's claim was timely. Judgment was entered in Midland's favor and against Mansfield.

The present case was filed prior to the entry of judgment in the Arizona state court. Midland has now filed a motion for an order denying class certification. Thereafter, plaintiff responded to Midland's motion and filed motions for leave to file a first amended class action complaint ("FAC") and for class certification.

The Court notes that defendants' motion concerning class certification must be limited to the operative complaint and not to the proposed FAC.

Legal Standard

"Class actions have two primary purposes: (1) to accomplish judicial economy by avoiding multiple suits; and (2) to protect the rights of persons who might not be able to present claims on an individual basis." Haley v. Medtronic, Inc., 169 F.R.D. 643, 647 (C.D. Cal. 1996) (citing Crown, Cork & Seal Co. v. Parker, 462 U.S. 345 (1983)). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, district courts have broad discretion to determine whether a class should be certified. Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 603 F.3d 571, 579 (9th Cir. 2010). In order to obtain certification of a class action, plaintiff must provide facts in support of the four requirements of Rule 23(a): (1) numerosity; (2) commonality; (3) typicality; and (4) adequacy of representation.*fn1 Dunleavy v. Nadler ( In re Mego Fir. Corp. Sec. Litig.), 213 F.3d 454, 462 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal quotations omitted). These requirements effectively "limit the class claims to those fairly encompassed by the named plaintiff's claims." Gen. Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 155 (1982) (quoting Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 701 (1979)). In addition to the Rule 23(a) requirements, the party seeking certification bears the burden of meeting at least one requirement of Rule 23(b). Id. at 580.

Plaintiff seeks certification under Rules 23(b)(3) and (b)(2). A class may be certified under Rule 23(b)(3), if "the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy." Vinole v. ...


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