United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER AUTHORIZING NOTICE TO CLASS AND ESTABLISHING
SCHEDULE FOR FURTHER ACTION
TORRESEN UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.
action involves standardized initial debt collection letters
sent to consumers by Susan J. Szwed, P.A. The Plaintiffs
Alfred Marcoux and Charlene Jones allege those letters
violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et
seq., by failing to properly notify Maine consumers of
how they could dispute the validity of the debts they were
alleged to owe and how they could obtain from the Defendant
verification of the legitimacy of those debts.
parties have contracted to settle the case, and the Defendant
agreed to pay $3, 800 to be divided among the approximately
92 class members. The FDCPA limits a class's recovery to
1% of the Defendant's net worth. See 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692k(a)(2)(B). The parties assert that the $3, 800
represents the bulk of statutory damages available to the
class. Pls.' Unopposed Mot. for Prelim. Approval of Class
Action Settlement 4 (ECF No. 26). The Defendant also will pay
the maximum amount of individual statutory damages-$1, 000-to
each of Mr. Marcoux and Ms. Jones. See 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692k(a)(2)(A). The Defendant will separately pay the
costs of class notice and administration of the settlement,
and, subject to my approval, class counsel's
attorneys' fees and litigation expenses.
Plaintiffs have moved for an order approving their notice to
the class and for me to set the date for the final fairness
hearing. In support of their request for
authorization of the class notice, the Plaintiffs have filed
a memorandum of law, the Declaration of Jesse Johnson, and
the Settlement Agreement between the Plaintiffs and the
Defendants. To ensure proper notice is provided to class
members in accordance with due process requirements; and to
conduct a final approval hearing as to the good faith,
fairness, adequacy and reasonableness of any proposed
settlement, I HEREBY MAKE THE FOLLOWING DETERMINATIONS AND
1. It appears that informal discovery, investigation,
research, and litigation have been conducted such that
counsel for the parties at this time are able to reasonably
evaluate their respective positions. It further appears that
settlement at this time will avoid substantial costs, delay,
and risks that would be presented by the further prosecution
of the litigation. It also appears that the proposed
Settlement Agreement has been reached as the result of
informed negotiations between the parties.
2. I have reviewed the Settlement Agreement and the proposed
Notice. I find that the proposed Notice satisfies the
requirements of Rule 23(c)(2)(B) by clearly and concisely
stating in plain, easily understood language (i) the nature
of the action; (ii) the definition of the Class certified;
(iii) the class claims and issues; (iv) that a class member
may enter an appearance through an attorney if the member so
desires; (v) that the Court will exclude from the Class any
member who requests exclusion; (vi) the time and manner for
requesting exclusion; and (vii) the binding effect of a class
judgment on members under Rule 23(c)(3).
3. The Notice also satisfies Rule 23(c)(2)(B) and due process
standards by mailing individual notice to all identified
class members. The Court finds that mailing the Notice to the
Class Members constitutes an effective method of notifying
Class Members of the case, the proposed settlement, and their
rights with respect to it. In accordance with the Settlement
Agreement, the class administrator shall mail the notice to
the Class Members as expeditiously as possible, but in no
event later than October 25, 2016. All mailings shall be made
to the present and/or last known mailing address of the Class
Members. The class administrator shall confirm, and if
necessary, update the addresses for the Class Members through
standard methodology that the class administrator currently
uses to update addresses. With the two minor changes have I
highlighted in yellow, I AUTHORIZE the
Notice of Class Action Settlement, attached hereto, be mailed
to the proposed class members.
4. Any Class Member who desires to be excluded from the class
(“opt-out”) must send a written request for
exclusion to the class administrator in the form described in
the Notice with a postmark no later than December 1, 2016.
Any Class Member who submits a valid and timely request for
exclusion will not be bound by the terms of the Settlement
5. Any Class Member who desires to object to final approval
of the Settlement can send a written objection to the Clerk
of Court, 156 Federal Street, Portland, ME 04101. The
objection must be postmarked by December 1, 2016.
6. Any party to this case, including Class Members, may
appear at the Final Fairness Hearing in person or by counsel,
and may be heard to the extent allowed by the Court, in
support of or in opposition to, the Court's determination
of the good faith, fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of
the proposed Settlement and any Order of Final Approval and
7. Pursuant to Rule 23, I appoint Alfred Marcoux and Charlene
Jones as the Class Representatives.
8. Pursuant to Rule 23, I appoint Jesse S. Johnson of
Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC as Class Counsel.
9. The parties have agreed on a third-party claims
administrator-First Class, Inc.-to provide notification to
Class Members and to administer the settlement. The class
administrator will be responsible for mailing the approved
class action notice and settlement checks to the Class
Members. All costs of administration will be paid by the
Defendant separate and apart from the Settlement Fund.
10. In compliance with the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005,
28 U.S.C. §§ 1711-1715, the Defendant will serve
written notice of the proposed class settlement on the United
States Attorney General and the Attorneys General of the