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Marti v. Schreiber/Cohen, LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 2, 2020

VANESSA MARTI, on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
SCHREIBER/COHEN, LLC, & DAVID ROWAND HOWARD, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION (DOCKET NO. 34)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE

         Vanessa Marti (“Plaintiff”) brought this putative class action against Schreiber/Cohen, LLC (“Schreiber/Cohen”) and David Rowand Howard (“Mr. Howard”) (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging that they violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692e, and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”), M.G.L. c. 93A, § 2, by sending collections letters that fail to identify the current creditor on her debt. Plaintiff now moves to certify two classes comprised of Massachusetts residents receiving similar communications. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies in part and grants in part Plaintiff's motion (Docket No. 34).

         Background

         Midland Funding, LLC (“Midland”), currently holds the rights to Plaintiff's alleged debt. (Docket Nos. 25 at 3, 46-1 at 2). Schreiber/Cohen, a law firm, represents Midland. (Docket Nos. 25 at 3, 35-1 at 6). Mr. Howard is Schreiber/Cohen's Chief Compliance Attorney. (Docket No. 46-1 at 2).

         On October 3, 2017, Defendants sent Plaintiff the following letter (“Exhibit A”):

         Image Omitted

         (Docket No. 25-1). Mr. Howard created the template for Exhibit A, and Defendants routinely sent letters in the form of Exhibit A to collect alleged debts owed by Massachusetts residents. (Docket No. 35-1 at 3, 7).

         On October 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action, contending that Exhibit A violates the FDCPA and MCPA because it fails to identify the entity to whom she owes a debt. (Docket No. 1). Plaintiff moved for class certification on September 27, 2019. (Docket No. 34). She seeks to certify two classes. The FDCPA class comprises “(i) all persons with addresses in Massachusetts (ii) to whom Defendants sent or caused to be sent an initial communication in the form of Exhibit A (iii) in an attempt to collect an alleged obligation (iv) which, as shown by the nature of the alleged obligation, Defendants' records, or the records of the original creditors, was primarily for personal, family, or household purposes (v) during the period one year prior to the date of the filing this action.” (Docket No. 34 at 1-2). The MCPA class includes “(i) all persons with addresses in Massachusetts (ii) to whom Defendants sent or caused to be sent an initial communication in the form of Exhibit A (iii) in an attempt to collect an alleged obligation (iv) which, as shown by the nature of the alleged obligation, Defendants' records, or the records of the original creditors, was primarily for personal, family, or household purposes (v) during the period four years prior to the date of the filing this action.” (Docket No. 34 at 2).

         Legal Standard

         A court may only certify a class if a plaintiff “affirmatively demonstrate[s]” compliance with the requirements of Rule 23(a) and at least one subsection of Rule 23(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350 (2011). Rule 23(a) sets forth the following criteria:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or ...

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