United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
April 21, 2004.
MAXINE ORLOFF, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
SYNDICATED OFFICE SYSTEMS, INC., HEALTHCARE BUSINESS SERVICES and CENTRAL FINANCIAL CONTROL
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD B. SURRICK, District Judge
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Plaintiff, Maxine Orloff, ("Plaintiff) filed this consumer class
action against Defendants, Syndicated Office Systems ("SOS"), Healthcare
Business Services ("HBS"), and Central Financial Control ("CFC") after
HBS and CFC attempted to collect a debt for medical expenses that
Plaintiff allegedly owed to HBS. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
violated the Credit Repair Organization Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1679, et.
seq. ("CROA"), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. ("FDCPA"), the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension
Uniformity Act, 73 PA. CONS. STAT. § 2270.1, et seq. ("FCEUA"), and
the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 PA. CONS.
STAT. § 201-1, et seq. ("UTPCPL"). On January 21, 2004, we
provisionally certified this case as a class action pursuant to Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b)(1) for the purpose of achieving
a settlement. On March 29, 2004, we held a fairness hearing to assess the
settlement the parties reached. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's
Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement (Doc. No. 35) and
Plaintiff's Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Reimbursement of
Expenses (Doc. No. 36). For the following reasons, we will grant both
Motions. I. BACKGROUND
A. Plaintiff's Allegations
Plaintiff's claims are based on two letters that she received from HBS
and CFC seeking to collect money owed to a medical facility where
Plaintiff purportedly incurred unreimbursed medical expenses. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 10-19.) Both letters allegedly attempted to coerce Plaintiff into
paying a debt that she purportedly owed. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 12.) The
letters allegedly were false, deceptive, misleading, and unfair and
violated CROA, FDCPA, FCEUA, and UTPCPL. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants' acts caused her actual and consequential damages.
(Id. ¶ 22.)
Plaintiff purports to bring this action on behalf of herself and a
class of persons who received substantially similar letters from
Defendants during the two years prior to the filing of the complaint (the
"Class"). (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff alleges that the Class has
hundreds, if not thousands of members, the precise number of which is
known only to Defendants. (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff argues that
there are questions of law and fact common to the Class that predominate
over other questions, namely, whether Defendants violated CROA, FDCPA and
UTPCPL by mailing letters substantially similar to those mailed to
Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff states that her claims are
typical of the claims of the Class, which all arise from the same
operative facts and are based on the same legal theories. (Id.
¶ 26.) Plaintiff claims she has fairly and adequately protected the
interests of the Class and that she has retained counsel experienced in
handling class actions and claims involving unlawful business practices.
(Id. ¶ 27.) Finally, Plaintiff argues that this action meets
the other criteria required for class treatment, including the
requirement that a class action be superior to other available litigation
methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of this controversy.
(Id. ¶ 31.) B. The Settlement and the Fairness Hearing
The settlement provides for the following: (1) Defendants shall fully,
finally, and completely forgive ten percent, or approximately $437,000,
on a pro rata basis, of the total debt allegedly owed to Defendants by
the approximately 3,340 members of the Class, and shall report that ten
percent forgiveness to the consumer reporting agencies to which
Defendants report; (2) Plaintiff, as a representative of the Class, shall
receive $5,000 in full settlement and satisfaction of her individual
claims pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(B)(i), and as compensation
for her services rendered to the Class as well as a ten percent
forgiveness of her alleged debt; (3) Defendants shall fund all
administration expenses related to the settlement, including the costs
required to provide notice of the settlement to the Class; (4) Defendants
shall confirm that they no longer send the letter attached as Exhibit A
to the complaint in connection with their efforts to collect debts in
Pennsylvania; (5) Defendants shall revise the letter attached as Exhibit
B to the complaint and begin using the form of letter attached to the
Settlement Agreement at Tab 1 in connection with their efforts to collect
debts in Pennsylvania; and (6) Defendants shall pay up to $67,500 to
satisfy Plaintiff's reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, subject to the
approval of the Court.
Defendants identified 3,147 potential Class members and mailed them
notice of the settlement on February 17, 2004. (Doc. No. 40 ¶ 3.) The
notice conformed to the requirements of Rule 23 and informed the Class
members of the existence of this action, the terms of the settlement, and
the Class members' rights with respect to the settlement. Specifically,
the notice informed each Class member that they had the right to
participate in the settlement or opt out of the Class, and to object to
any of the terms of the settlement. The notice also informed each Class member of the procedure necessary to opt out of the Class
and/or object to the settlement, including each Class members' right to
appear at the fairness hearing scheduled for March 29, 2004. Notices
could not be served on 665 Class members, either because their last known
addresses were invalid or the notices were returned as "undeliverable" by
the United States Postal Service. (Id. ¶ 6.) As of March 23,
2004, only one potential Class member opted out of the settlement.
(Id. ¶ 7.) No Class member have objected to the settlement.
(Id. ¶ 8.) On March 29, 2004, a fairness hearing was
conducted with respect to the settlement. No Class members appeared at
that hearing to object to the settlement.
II. FAIRNESS OF THE SETTLEMENT
In order to ensure meaningful appellate review of a decision to approve
a settlement, a district court must present its reasons for approving the
settlement. Eichenholtz v. Brennan, 52 F.3d 478, 488-89 (3d Cir.
1995). "It is essential in cases such as this that the district court set
forth the reasoning supporting its conclusion in sufficient detail to
make meaningful review possible; use of `mere boilerplate' language will
not suffice." Bryan v. Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., 494 F.2d 799,
804 (3d Cir. 1974). First we will examine the proposed Class to ensure
that it meets the requirements of Rule 23. Then we will evaluate the
fairness of the settlement by following the nine-factor test adopted by
the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Girsh v. Jepson,
521 F.2d 153 (3d Cir. 1975).
A. Class Certification
On January 21, 2004, we provisionally certified the Class for the
purpose of reaching a settlement. Before we can finally approve the
settlement, however, Plaintiff must demonstrate that the Class meets the
requirements of Rule 23. In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. Sales
Practice Litig., 148 F.3d 283, 308 (3d Cir. 1998) ("[A] district
court must first find a class satisfies the requirements of Rule 23,
regardless whether it certifies the class for trial or for settlement.").
To be certified, the Class must meet all of the requirements of
Rule 23(a), and the action must fit into one of the three categories of class
actions set forth in Rule 23(b)(1), (b)(2) or (b)(3). In re Life USA
Holding Inc., 242 F.3d 136, 143 (3d Cir. 2001). Rule 23(a) states
One or more members of a class may sue or be sued
as representative parties on behalf of all only if
(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 defenses of the class,
and (4) the representative parties will fairly and
adequately protect the interests of the class.
FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a). "These four elements are often referred to
as numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation,
respectively." In re Life USA, 242 F.3d at 143.
"Numerosity requires a finding that the putative class is so numerous
that joinder of all members is impracticable." Newton v. Merrill
Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 259 F.3d 154, 182 (3d Cir.
2001). Defendants represent that 3,340 people received the debt
collection letters at issue in this case during the relevant time period.
"No minimum number of plaintiffs is required to maintain a suit as a
class action, but generally if the named plaintiff demonstrates that the
potential number of plaintiffs exceeds 40, the first prong of Rule 23(a)
has been met." Stewart v. Abraham, 275 F.3d 220, 227 (3d Cir.
2001); see also Oslan v. Collection Bureau of Hudson Valley,
206 F.R.D. 109, 111 (E.D. Pa. 2002) (finding numerosity requirement met when
there were either 740 or 941 class members). A class with 3,340 potential
members satisfies the numerosity requirement. 2. Commonality
Commonality demands that there are "questions of law or fact common to
the class." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a)(2). "The commonality requirement will
be satisfied if the named plaintiffs share at least one question
of fact or law with the grievances of the prospective class."
Stewart, 275 F.3d at 227 (quoting Baby Neal v. Casey,
43 F.3d 48, 56 (3d Cir. 1994)). Generally, courts have held that the
commonality requirement is satisfied when "the defendants have engaged in
standardized conduct towards members of the proposed class by mailing to
them allegedly illegal form letters or documents." Saunders v. Berks
Credit & Collections, Inc., No. 00-3477, 2002 WL 1497374, at *6
(E.D. Pa. July 11, 2002) (citing Keele v. Wexler, 149 F.3d 589,
594 (7th Cir. 1998)). Furthermore, courts in this district have
previously found commonality in debt collection letter class action
lawsuits. See, e.g., Saunders, 2002 WL 1497374, at *6 (finding
commonality requirement met when consumers sent substantially similar
debt collection letters); Hudson Valley, 206 F.R.D. at 111
(same); Schilling v. Let's Talk Cellular & Wireless, No.
00-3123, 2002 WL 391695, at *1 n.1 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 6, 2002) (same).
Plaintiff claims that Defendants sent her debt collection letters that
were substantially similar to those sent to the other Class members and
that those letters violated the same federal and state debt collection
statutes. These allegations are sufficient to show questions of law or
fact that are common to the Class.
Typicality requires that "the claims or defenses of the representative
parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class." FED. R. CIV.
P. 23(a)(3). The central inquiry in a typicality evaluation is whether
"the named plaintiff's individual circumstances are markedly different or
. . . the legal theory upon which the claims are based differs from
that upon which the claims of other class members will perforce be based." Eisenberg v.
Gagnon, 766 F.2d 770, 786 (3d Cir. 1985) (quoting Weiss v. York
Hosp., 745 F.2d 786, 809 n. 36 (3d Cir. 1984). "The heart of this
requirement is that the plaintiff and each member of the represented
group have an interest in prevailing on similar legal claims."
Seidman v. Am. Mobile Sys., Inc., 157 F.R.D. 354, 360 (E.D.
Plaintiffs claims and those of the other Class members are typical
because Plaintiff and the other Class members received substantially
similar letters and claim that those letters violated the same federal
and state statutes. Other courts have found the typicality requirement
satisfied under similar circumstances in debt collection class actions.
See, e.g., Saunders, 2002 WL 1497374, at *7; Hudson
Valley, 206 F.R.D. at 112; Schilling, 2002 WL 391695, at *1
n.1. We are satisfied that the typicality requirement has been met here.
4. Adequacy of Representation
A class representative is adequate if (1) the class representative's
counsel is competent to conduct a class action; and (2) the class
representative's interests are not antagonistic to the class's interests.
In re General Motors Corp. Pick-up Truck Fuel Tank Prods. Liab.
Litig., 55 F.3d 768, 800-01 (3d Cir. 1995). A number of courts in
this district have found that Plaintiff's counsel are competent to
prosecute class actions such as this. See, e.g., Saunders, 2002
WL 1497374 at *8 ("Defendants do not challenge the qualifications of
Saunders' counsel [Francis & Mailman P.C.] and the Court finds them
to be well qualified"); Hudson Valley, 206 F.R.D. at 112
("Francis & Mailman P.C. and Donovan Searles LLC, possess sufficient
qualifications, skill, and experience in consumer law and class action
practice to prosecute this suit to its conclusion."). We concur.
Plaintiffs counsel is very experienced in prosecuting class actions and has competently represented this Class. In addition, it
is clear that Plaintiff's interests are not antagonistic to the interests
of the Class. Accordingly, this Class meets all the requirements in
5. Rule 23(b)
Before we can certify the Class, we must also find that this action
fits into one of the three categories of class actions set forth in
Rule 23(b). Because we find the Class meets the requirements of Rule 23(b)(3),
we need not consider whether it fits into any of the other subsections of
Rule 23(b). To certify a class under Rule 23(b)(3), we must find that
"questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate
over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class
action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient
adjudication of the controversy." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(3).
Predominance "tests whether proposed classes are sufficiently cohesive
to warrant adjudication by representation." Amchem Prods., Inc. v.
Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 623 (1997). This is "a test readily met in
certain cases alleging consumer or securities fraud." Id. at
625. Defendants sent substantially similar debt collection letters to
Plaintiff and the other Class members. Accordingly, "[c]ommon questions
of law and fact predominate because of the virtually identical factual
and legal predicates of each class member's claim." Smith v. First
Union Mortgage Corp., No. 98-5360, 1999 WL 509967, at *2 (E.D. Pa.
July 19, 1999); see also Hudson Valley, 206 F.R.D. at 112
(finding predominance when "each member of the proposed class received
substantially similar letters from the defendant").
We also find that a class action is "superior to other available
methods for the fair and efficient adjudication" of this case. FED. R.
CIV. P. 23(b)(3). A class action is superior to individual lawsuits by the Class members because it provides an
efficient alternative to individual claims, and because individual Class
members are unlikely to bring individual actions given the likelihood
that their litigation expenses would exceed any potential recovery.
See, e.g., Ralston v. Zats, No. 94-3723, 2000 WL 1781590, at *5
(E.D. Pa. Nov. 7, 2000) (ruling that class action was the superior method
for addressing claims in which "[e]ach plaintiff allegedly suffered
harms, but the possibility of recovery would not be enough to make
litigation worthwhile."). Thus, Plaintiff has shown both predominance and
superiority as required by Rule 23(b)(3). Because the Plaintiff has shown
that this action meets all the requirements of Rule 23(a) and
Rule 23(b)(3), we will certify the Class and assess the fairness of the
B. Fairness of the Settlement According to the
Rule 23(e) requires that all settlements of class actions be approved
by the Court. Under this rule, "`the district court acts as a fiduciary
who must serve as a guardian of the rights of absent class members.'"
General Motors, 55 F.3d at 785 (quoting Grunin v. Int'l
House of Pancakes, 513 F.2d 114, 123 (8th Cir. 1975)). Approval of a
class action settlement requires that the settlement be fair, adequate,
and reasonable. Id. In Girsh, the Third Circuit held
that district courts should consider nine factors when determining
whether to approve a class action settlement. 521 F.2d at 157. Those
factors are: (1) the complexity, expense and likely duration of the
litigation; (2) the reaction of the class to the settlement; (3) the
stage of the proceedings and the amount of discovery completed; (4) the
risks of establishing liability; (5) the risks of establishing damages;
(6) the risks of maintaining the class action through trial; (7) the
ability of defendants to withstand a greater judgment; (8) the range of
reasonableness of the settlement fund in light of the best possible
recovery; and (9) the range of reasonableness of the settlement fund in light of all the attendant risks of litigation.
Id. at 785 (citing Girsh, 521 F.2d at 157). Upon
consideration of each of the Girsh factors, we conclude that the
settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable.
1. The Complexity, Expense and Likely Duration of the
Absent settlement, the parties would have to prepare for trial.
Proceeding to trial would undoubtedly involve great expenses for both
parties, and would substantially delay any relief to the Class members.
An appeal by the losing party could further delay these proceedings. On
the other hand, a settlement provides immediate benefits to both sides
with less costs. Thus, we find this factor favors approval of the
2. The Reaction of the Class to the Settlement
Approximately 3,147 notices were mailed to Class members advising them
of the terms of the settlement and their right to opt out of the Class.
Only one Class member opted out by the settlement, and no Class member
objected to the settlement. These facts support approval of the
settlement. See Stoetzner v. U.S. Steel Corp., 897 F.2d 115,
118-19 (3d Cir. 1990) (holding that "only" 29 objections in 281 member
class "strongly favors settlement"); In re Prudential, 148 F.3d
at 318 (affirming conclusion of district court that class reaction was
favorable when 19,000 class members opted out of class of eight million
and 300 objected).
3. The Stage of the Proceedings and the Amount of Discovery
The parties arrived at the settlement only after filing and briefing
several motions to dismiss. We granted in part and denied in part
Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint (Doc. No. 23), and
granted Plaintiffs motion to dismiss Defendants' counterclaims (Doc. No.
32). The parties also engaged in discovery. Thus, the settlement occurred
at a stage where "`the parties certainly [had] a clear view of the strengths
and weaknesses' of their case[s]." Bonnett v. Educ. Debt. Servs.,
Inc., No. 01-6528, 2003 WL 21658267, at *6 (E.D. Pa. May 9, 2003)
(quoting In re Warner Communications Sec. Litig., 618 F. Supp. 735,
745 (S.D.N.Y. 1985), aff'd, 798 F.2d 35 (2d Cir. 1986)). We
conclude that this factor favors approval of the settlement.
4. The Risks of Establishing Liability
To prevail at trial, the Class would have to prove that Defendants
violated the FDCPA by sending the subject letters. This is far from
certain. There is always a risk that a Court might rule as a matter of
law that the letters did not violate the FDCPA. See, e.g., Wilson v.
Quadramed Corp., 225 F.3d 350 (3d Cir. 2000). Accordingly, we find
that this factor favors approval of the settlement.
5. The Risks of Establishing Damages
Even if the Class established liability, it is unlikely that the Class
members would recover more than they would from the settlement. The FDCPA
provides that a plaintiff may recover actual and/or statutory damages.
See 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(1) & (2)(B). The nature of the
Class's claims that Defendants' debt collection letters failed to
effectively communicate certain validation notices and were otherwise
false and misleading make it unlikely that actual damages could
be recovered because no evidence of obvious financial loss or emotional
distress arising from receipt of the letters is apparent. In that event,
the Class would be relegated to statutory damages under the FDCPA, which
are limited to the "lesser of $500,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth
of the debt collector. . . ." 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(B). Given
the net worth of Defendants, statutory damages would be limited to
approximately $10,000, or about $3.00 per Class member. The settlement, on the other hand, provides
about $131 in economic benefit to each Class member. Thus, the settlement
secures economic benefits that likely exceed any benefits the Class
members could get from going to trial.*fn1 We conclude that this factor
favors approval of the settlement.
6. The Risks of Maintaining the Class Action Through
Class certification is always conditional and may be reconsidered.
Rendler v. Gambone Bros. Dev. Co., 182 F.R.D. 152, 160 (E.D.
Pa. 1998). There is a risk that, absent settlement, the Court could revisit
the issue of class certification prior to trial. The settlement affords
relief to the Class members who, without class certification, would
receive nothing. This factor favors approval of the settlement.
7. The Ability of Defendants to Withstand a Greater
Although Defendants are financially stable today, there is no assurance
that they will remain so in the event this case proceeds to trial. If
Defendants' financial position were to decline, the Class could have
difficulty in collecting any judgment. Thus, this factor favors approval
of the settlement.
8. The Range of Reasonableness of the Settlement Fund in Light
of the Best Possible Recovery
As we have discussed, there is no guarantee the Class would be
successful at trial. Moreover, the Class will likely get more by
participating in the settlement that it would if it were to prevail at trial. We also note that in arguing that the
settlement is fair, attorneys for the Class have pointed to weaknesses in
the claims of the Class. Courts in this district have concluded that we
may give weight to the opinions of experienced attorneys in deciding the
fairness of a settlement compared to the likely recovery at trial.
See, e.g., Olsan v. Law Offices of Mitchell N. Kay, 232 F. Supp.2d 436,
444 (E.D. Pa. 2002). Taking into consideration the opinions of
Class counsel that the settlement provides the best possible recovery to
the Class, we find this factor weighs in favor of approving the
9. The Range of Reasonableness of the Settlement Fund in Light
of All the Attendant Risks of Litigation.
We have already discussed the risk that the Class might not prevail at
trial, and the risk that it would recover less at trial than by
participating in the settlement. Given these significant risks, we find
that the settlement is reasonable and that this factor favors its
III. AWARD TO CLASS REPRESENTATIVE, ATTORNEYS' FEES, AND
A. Award to Class Representative
The settlement contemplates a $5,000 award to Plaintiff as the class
representative. This award is consistent with the range of awards made in
favor of class representatives in similar cases. See, e.g.,
Bonnett, 2003 WL 21658267, at *7 (approving award of $4,000 to class
representative as part of a FDCPA class action settlement). We find the
award to Plaintiff is reasonable given her effort in bringing this action
and obtaining significant benefits for the Class.
B. Attorneys' Fees and Costs
Defendants agreed to pay the Class $67,500 to cover its attorneys' fees
and costs. As the prevailing party, the Class is entitled to an award of
its costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(3). Because this is a class
action, however, we must thoroughly review the fee application. See
In re Prudential, 148 F.3d at 333. The Class's counsel used the
lodestar method to calculate its fees. We have reviewed the affidavits
that council for the Class filed showing the hours and rates that they
billed in this matter. Attorneys from Francis & Mailman, P.C. charged
between $170-$235 per hour, rates that other courts have found
reasonable. See Bonnett, 2003 WL 21658267, at *8. Co-counsel
Donovan Searles, LLC charged a rate of $390 per hour, which also has been
found reasonable. See id. We find that the hours billed by the
Class's counsel and paralegals are also reasonable, considering the fact
that the parties briefed several motions to dismiss, engaged in
discovery, and negotiated the settlement, which provides valuable
benefits to the Class. In addition, we note that the settlement provides
$437,000 in economic benefit to the Class, which is more than five times
greater than the $67,500 in fees to be awarded their attorneys. Some
courts have approved fee applications that exceeded the settlement
amount, so long as the fee application was reasonable in light of the
success the attorneys achieved for the class. See, e.g., Mitchell N.
Kay, 232 F. Supp.2d at 444. Here, the settlement amount easily
exceeds the requested fees. We conclude that Class counsel has achieved
significant benefits for the Class, and that the fees and costs requested
An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this ___ day of April, 2004, upon consideration of Motion for
Final Approval of Class Action Settlement (Doc. No. 35) and Plaintiff's
Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Reimbursement of Expenses (Doc.
No. 36), and all papers filed in support thereto and in opposition
thereof, the parties having presented their Settlement Agreement to the
Court and the Court having held a hearing on the fairness of the proposed
settlement, at which objectors to the settlement could appear, and the
Court being fully advised in the premises, the Court finds that:
A. Notice of the proposed settlement has been timely mailed by
Defendants to all persons in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who, during
the two years prior to the filing of the Litigation, were sent collection
letters substantially in the form of the two letters attached to the
Amended Complaint in connection with the collection of debts incurred for
non-business purposes, which letters were not returned as undeliverable
by the Postal Service. Such notice satisfies the requirements of
Rule 23(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
B. One Class member has requested exclusion from the Class. That member
is Charles Poland, Jr., 4537 Osage Avenue, Apt. Cl, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania 19143, and he is not bound by the terms of the settlement of
the Litigation. No objections to the proposed settlement have been filed.
C. The issues as to liability and remedies, if any, in the Litigation
are issues as to which there are substantial grounds for difference of
opinion, and the proposed settlement of the Litigation constitutes a
resolution of those issues that is fair, reasonable and adequate to the
members of the Class.
It is therefore ORDERED that:
1. The Settlement Agreement submitted herein is approved as fair,
reasonable and adequate pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, and the parties are directed to consummate such agreement in
accordance with its terms. All terms defined in the Settlement Agreement
have the same meanings when used herein.
2. The Litigation is hereby dismissed, with prejudice and without
costs, and all Class members who did not timely request exclusion shall
be barred and enjoined from bringing any and all claims, actions and
causes of action asserted in the Litigation or that could have been
asserted in the Litigation under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act and/or the Pennsylvania
Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law arising from
Defendants' violation or alleged violation of federal or state debt
collection laws, or that relate to or arise from the settlement of the
Litigation or the administration of the settlement, against (i)
Representative Plaintiff; (ii) Defendants; (iii) their respective
personal representatives, estates, beneficiaries, administrators,
executors, heirs, parents, partners, contractors, clients, subsidiaries,
and affiliates; (iv) the principals, representatives, owners,
shareholders, partners, limited partners, joint venturers, directors,
officers, employees, employers, attorneys, agents, successors, and
assignes, both past and present, of Defendants; (v) any attorney for
Defendants, the Representative Plaintiff, her agents, employees,
successors, and assigns (collectively, the "Released Parties").
3. Defendants and the Released Parties are hereby enjoined and barred
from bringing any claim, action, or cause of action in connection with
this matter against the Representative Plaintiff or any of her attorneys,
administrators, successors, or assigns that have been released under the
4. Upon the Effective Date, Defendants shall fully, finally, and
completely forgive ten percent (10%), approximately $437,000, on a pro
rata basis, of the total debt allegedly owed to Defendants by members of
the Class (which Defendants represent totals approximately $4,367,000),
and shall report the 10% forgiveness to the consumer reporting agencis to
which Defendants report.
5. The Representative Plaintiff is awarded $5,000 in full settlement of
her individual claims, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(B)(i).
6. Class Counsel is awarded $67,500 in fees and expenses, which the
Court finds to be fair and reasonable and which shall be paid to Class
Counsel by Defendants in accordance with the Settlement Agreement.
7. Consummation of the settlement shall proceed as described in the
Settlement Agreement and the Court hereby retains jurisdiction of this
matter in order to resolve any disputes which may arise in the
implementation of the Settlement Agreement or the implementation of this
Final Judgment and Order. The Court retains continuing jurisdiction for
purposes of supervising the implementation of the Settlement Agreement.
Final judgment shall be entered as provided herein.
IT IS SO ORDERED.