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Blandina v. Midland Funding, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 2, 2015

VIOLET P. BLANDINA, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff
v.
MIDLAND FUNDING, LLC, et al., Defendants

For VIOLET P. BLANDINA, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiff: DAVID A. SEARLES, LEAD ATTORNEY, JAMES A. FRANCIS, FRANCIS & MAILMAN, P.C., PHILADELPHIA, PA; CARLO SABATINI, SABATINI LAW FIRM LLC, DUNMORE, PA.

For MIDLAND FUNDING, LLC, MIDLAND CREDIT MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendants: ANDREW M. SCHWARTZ, LEAD ATTORNEY, RONALD M. METCHO, II, MARSHALL DENNEHEY WARNER COLEMAN & GOGGIN, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

NITZA I. QUIÑ ONES ALEJANDRO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

INTRODUCTION

Before this Court is a motion in limine to determine available statutory damages filed by Defendants Midland Funding, LLC, (" MF"), and Midland Credit Management, Inc., (" MCM") (collectively, " Defendants"). [ECF 42], Violet P. Blandina (" Plaintiff") has filed an opposition thereto, [ECF 49], and Defendants filed a reply. [ECF 50]. This matter has been fully briefed and for the reasons stated herein, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

On March 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint-class action on her own behalf and on behalf of a purported class of similarly-situated debtors, averring that Defendants violated various provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA") by sending a collection letter, (attached as Exhibit A to the amended complaint), that was " a false, deceptive, and misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of a debt, and an unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect a debt." [ECF 2]. Specifically, Plaintiff's contention is premised upon the representation made in Defendants' collection letter that if the consumer recipient agreed to pay a reduced amount to satisfy the debt, Defendants would stop applying interest to the debt, when, in reality, Defendants, admittedly, were not applying interest to any debt. The collection letter read, in part:

" Benefits of Paying!
We will stop applying interest to your account!"

By Order dated December 23, 2014, [ECF 57], this Court granted Plaintiff's motion for class certification and certified the following class:

All consumers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to whom, from March 5, 2012, and continuing through the resolution of this action, Defendants sent a letter substantially in the form attached to the Amended Complaint as Exhibit A, in an attempt to collect a consumer debt allegedly owed to Verizon Pennsylvania, Inc.

Plaintiff, on behalf of the now-certified class, seeks recovery in the maximum statutory damages award amount of $500, 000 for class actions from each of the two Defendants, for a total of $1, 000, 000 in statutory damages.[1] Defendants have filed the underlying motion seeking a legal determination as to the statutory amount of damages available.

DISCUSSION

As noted, at issue here is the parties' disagreement as to the correct interpretation of the FDCPA provision providing the maximum amount of statutory damages recoverable in a class action suit, such as this one. Defendants argue that the FDCPA limits the recovery of a class to a maximum amount of $500, 000 per action, regardless of the number of named defendants. Plaintiff disagrees, and argues ...


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