United States District Court, D. Maine
DECISION AND ORDER ON CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND
Torresen United States Chief District Judge
me is the Plaintiffs' unopposed motion for final approval
of class action settlement and the Plaintiffs' unopposed
motion for attorney fees and reimbursement of litigation
expenses. This action involves a standardized initial debt
collection letter 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. The parties
have come to an agreement to settle the case.
of the settlement has been successful, reaching 88 of the 89
consumers in the class. As part of the settlement, the
Defendant has agreed to no longer use the form initial debt
collection letter that was sent to class members. Class
members will receive a modest recovery under the settlement.
The proposed incentive payments for the two named Plaintiffs,
the costs of notice and administration of the class
settlement, and attorney fees and expenses will be paid
separately from the class settlement fund.
conducting a fairness hearing on January 27, 2017, as Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) requires, I conclude that the
settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and that the
incentive awards and attorney fees and expenses are
Settlement Class Certification
analysis of these factors in my October 3, 2016, Order of
Preliminary Certification applies here equally. Marcoux
v. Szwed, No. 2:15-CV-093-NT, 2016 WL 5720713 (D. Me.
Oct. 3, 2016). No more need be said. I conclude, therefore,
that certification of the proposed class is appropriate.
Settlement and Plan of Distribution
proposed settlement is subject to the following procedure:
(1) The court must direct notice in a reasonable manner to
all class members who would be bound by the proposal.
(2) If the proposal would bind class members, the court may
approve it only after a hearing and on finding that it is
fair reasonable, and adequate.
(3) The parties seeking approval must file a statement
identifying any agreement made in connection with the
(4) If the class action was previously certified under rule
23(b)(3), the court may refuse to approve a settlement unless
it affords a new opportunity to request exclusion to
individual class members who had an earlier opportunity to
request exclusion but did not do so.
(5) Any class member may object to the proposal if it
requires court approval under this subdivision (e); the
objection may be withdrawn only with the court's
Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e). Here, class members have received
individual notice of the settlement; there has been a
hearing; there are no side agreements; no class members filed
written objections; no class members appeared at the hearing.
What remains, then, is for me to determine ...