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ORENBUCH v. TRANS-CONTINENTAL CREDIT & COLLECTION CORP.

United States District Court, Southern District of New York


January 13, 2003

DEBORAH ORENBUCH, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRANS-CONTINENTAL CREDIT & COLLECTION CORP., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, United States District Judge

ORDER

On December 9, 2002, plaintiff's counsel served a motion for certification of a class for settlement purposes and for preliminary approval of a class action settlement agreement. Enclosed with this Order is a revised Notice to the Class. It is hereby

ORDERED that a conference shall be held on January 16, 2003 at 4:30pm in Courtroom 11B to address the motion and obtain comments from counsel on the revised Notice to the Class.

SO ORDERED.

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION

THIS IS AN IMPORTANT NOTICE ADVISING YOU OF YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.

To: All consumers who received a collection letter between January 8, 2001 to November 20, 2002, from TRANS-CONTINENTAL CREDIT & COLLECTION CORP. ("TCC") that indicated that you owed additional amounts of money, but did not also indicate that you had the right to dispute the additional amounts that the letter claimed you owed.

I. Explanation of What This Notice Means

A lawsuit has been filed against TCC that asserts that TCC violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by sending letters that did not include language notifying the consumer that the consumer had the right to dispute the additional amount of debt that the letter claimed that the consumer owed. If you received a collection letter from TCC, your rights may be affected by this lawsuit. An application has been made to the Court to settle the lawsuit on behalf of not only the plaintiff who filed the lawsuit, but also on behalf of all consumers who received such letters between January 8, 2001 and November 20, 2002. This group will be referred to as the "Class" in this notice.

You have been identified from TCC's records as a member of the Class. It is important for you to read this entire notice to understand your rights.

You have not been sued in this matter. The purpose of this Notice is to inform you of your rights as a Class member. If you do not want to be a member of the Class, this Notice provides instructions on how you can choose to be excluded from the Class. In order to be excluded from the Class, you must request exclusion in writing on or before [___] 2003. As a member of the class, you may also comment on the terms of a proposed settlement to settle the lawsuit. This Notice gives directions for doing this. This Notice also tells you who you can call if you have any questions about your rights.

II. Summary of the Lawsuit

The plaintiff Deborah Orenbuch received a collection letter from TCC, a debt collector, that indicated that she owed money to a creditor. She then received a second letter that indicated she owed this same creditor additional amounts of money. According to the plaintiff, this second letter failed to comply with the federal laws regarding attempts by third parties, such as collection agencies, to collect debts. She asserts that the second letter violated the law because it did not include language notifying her that she had the right to dispute the additional amounts that the second letter claimed that she owed.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides for the recovery of actual and statutory damages. If a plaintiff is successful, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows for the payment of costs related to the lawsuit and reasonable attorney's fees. The maximum statutory damages recoverable by an individual are $1,000, and recoverable in total by a class are 1% of the net worth of the Defendant or $500,000, whichever amount is lower. In this lawsuit Orenbuch seeks recovery of statutory damages, costs and attorney's fees from TCC. She is not seeking actual damages.

TCC has denied that it is liable to Orenbuch or to the Class. The Court has made no decision regarding the merits of the claims in this lawsuit.

Discovery in this lawsuit ended on September 13, 2002. On November 5, 2002, the plaintiff's lawyer advised the Court that the plaintiff and defendant had reached agreement on the terms of a settlement. Since the settlement includes the resolution of a Class action, it must be approved by the Court.

III. Settlement Agreement

TCC has agreed in a settlement agreement (the "Settlement Agreement") with Orenbuch to pay Orenbuch $1,000, to pay every other member of the Class $100 a piece, and to pay $5,000 to Orenbuch's attorneys, Katz & Kleinman. Based on the records in the possession of TCC, the Class consists of approximately (40) persons in addition to Orenbuch. In the event that a Class Member is deceased, TCC has agreed to pay the person(s) who they reasonably believe to be entitled to the distribution made on behalf of the deceased person.

This description of plaintiff's claim, defendant's response, and the Settlement Agreement is general. For a complete description of all of the contentions and proceedings in this case and for a copy of the Settlement Agreement you may contact plaintiff's counsel, Lawrence Katz, Katz & Kleinman, 165 EAB Plaza, Uniondale, New York 11556. Mr. Katz' telephone number is: (516) 522-2621.

IV. Your Options

You have been identified from TCC's records as a member of the Class.

You have two options:

1. You can choose to remain a member of the Class.

2. You can choose NOT to be a member of the Class.

Regardless of the choice you make, you will still be obligated to pay all of your debts. Nothing prevents TCC from continuing to attempt to collect any debts that are owed so long as TCC abides by the requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

A. Choosing to Remain a Member of the Class

If you are a member of the Class you have the right to decide whether to remain a member of the Class. If you choose to remain a Class member, you do not need to do anything at this time. If you do nothing, you will automatically be included in the Class. This means that, if the Court approves a settlement, you will receive the money to which members of the Class are entitled under the approved settlement. If you choose to remain in the Class, you will not be responsible for the payment of attorney's fees or costs in this litigation. If you do not request to be excluded from the Class by [date], you will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement and can not bring your own lawsuit for any claim you may have that arises from the allegations in this lawsuit. If you remain part of the Class, you have the right to object to the terms of the Settlement Agreement. (Please see the instructions on how to object in section V of this notice.)

B. Choosing NOT To Be A Member of The Class

You have the right to bring your own individual action. To do so, however, you must request to be excluded from the Class by sending the Request attached to the end of this Notice by [date], 2003, to:

Katz & Kleinman

165 EAB Plaza

Uniondale, New York 11556-0165.

If you intend to bring your own, separate lawsuit, you should be aware that any action must be brought within the period of time provided under the law. While the statute of limitations may depend on many individual factors, generally the statute of limitations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is one year from the date that the letter demanding payment was sent. If you request to be excluded from the Class, you will not be subject to the Settlement Agreement or any final judgment in this case.

V. The Fairness Hearing

A hearing will be held before the Honorable Denise Cote, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York, Courtroom 11B, on [date] at [time] (the "Fairness Hearing") to determine whether the Settlement Agreement should be approved as fair, reasonable, and adequate. If a settlement is approved, it will be binding on all members of the Class who have not sent a Request to be excluded from the Class by the deadline date of [date]. Any settlement will release TCC from any and all claims that were asserted or that were required to be asserted in this lawsuit, and the lawsuit will be dismissed.

If you remain part of the Class you have the right to object to the terms of the Settlement Agreement by filing and serving Objections. Your Objection must state your name, address, the case name and number, why you object to the proposed settlement, and any reasons supporting your position. You must sign your Objection. You must mail your Objection, postmarked on or before [date, 2003], to the following two addresses:

1. Clerk of the United States District Court

Southern District of New York

500 Pearl Street

New York, New York 10007

2. Katz & Kleinman

165 EAB Plaza

Uniondale, New York 11556-0165

PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE JUDGE OR THE CLERK OF COURT

REQUEST FOR EXCLUSION FROM CLASS ACTION

I hereby request to be excluded from this litigation and from any settlement of this litigation.

Name: _____________________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________

Signature: ________________________________________________

Date: _____________________

This Request must be postmarked no later than [date] and mailed to BOTH:

1. Clerk of the United States District Court

Southern District of New York

500 Pearl Street

New York, New York 10007

2. Katz & Kleinman

165 EAB Plaza

Uniondale, New York 11556

20030113

© 1992-2003 VersusLaw Inc.



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