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