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Jarzyna v. Home Properties, L.P.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 15, 2017

MARIUSZ G. JARZYNA, Plaintiff,
v.
HOME PROPERTIES, L.P., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.

         This case arises out of a landlord-tenant relationship that deteriorated more than seven years ago. The former tenant, Plaintiff Mariusz Jarzyna (“Plaintiff”), brought this action on behalf of himself and other similarly situated former tenants against a residential management company, Defendant Home Properties L.P. (“Home”), and a debt collection agency, Defendant Fair Collections and Outsourcing, Inc. (“FCO”), alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, as well as certain other state consumer protection laws. Before the Court now is Plaintiff's motion to certify the class. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny this motion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         As the Court has stated in the past, “[t]his case, despite the relative simplicity of its claims, has proceeded along an unusually circuitous and contentious path.” Jarzyna v. Home Props., L.P., 114 F.Supp.3d 243, 248 (E.D. Pa. 2015). The factual and procedural history has been set forth at length in other decisions issued in this case and need not be repeated here. See Jarzyna v. Home Props., L.P., No. 10-4191, 2016 WL 2623688, at *1-7 (E.D. Pa. May 6, 2016) (describing recent procedural history); Jarzyna, 114 F.Supp.3d at 248-52 (setting forth the factual background and earlier procedural history). The Court therefore describes only the most recent procedural history below.

         In July 2015, the Court ruled on the parties' motions for summary judgment and subsequent motions for reconsideration. Accordingly, the only liability issues that now remain for trial are (1) Plaintiff's claim, under the FDCPA, that certain of FCO's standard dunning letters lacked the requisite disclosures, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a), and (2) a counterclaim for breach of the lease agreement brought by Home against Plaintiff.[1]

         Now, nearly seven full years after Plaintiff filed his initial complaint, this case has reached the class certification stage. Plaintiff filed a supplemental motion for class certification on April 22, 2016, ECF No. 287, which FCO opposed on May 31, 2016, ECF No. 292. Plaintiff moves to certify the following class:

All persons residing in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C.[, ] who, during the period January 1, 2008 through the date of the filing of Plaintiff's Third Amended Class Action Complaint on April 8, 2013 (Doc. No. 205) (the “Class Period”):
a) have been identified and/or readily identifiable by Home Properties, L.P. (“Home”) to have been assessed Thirty Day Notice Fees by Home - and with the balance placed with FCO for collection, in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692f(1), 1692e(2), and 1692e(10); and
b) who have been subject of FCO's standard, common, and uniform policy not to identify themselves as a debt collector when leaving messages on cellular/personal phones in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e(11) and 1692d(6).

Pl.'s Mot. Class Cert. at 1-2, ECF No. 287. Plaintiff explains that this class definition was shaped upon the Court's grant of Defendant FCO failed to disclose that its calls were from a debt collector, and its collectors failed to identify the name of the caller when he or she left voicemail messages for Plaintiff in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e(11) and 1692d(6). See Pl.'s Mem. Law at 8, ECF No. 287-1. And, second, Defendant Home improperly charged Plaintiff an additional thirty days' rent despite the fact that he failed to give timely notice of his intent to vacate his rental apartment, for which this Court held Defendant FCO liable under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e(2) and (10) and 1692f(1) for attempting to collect an amount not authorized by the agreement creating the debt. See Id. at 7.

         The Court held a hearing on Plaintiff's class certification motion on October 17, 2016. ECF No. 395. Subsequently, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to take limited discovery by way of deposing four specific individuals. See ECF No. 335. The Court further ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefing regarding Plaintiff's motion for class certification. See Id. The parties subsequently submitted this briefing, ECF Nos. 355, 364, and the motion for class certification is now ripe for disposition.

         II. MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

         A. Legal Standard

         A party seeking class certification must satisfy Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the requirements of one of the subsections of Rule 23(b). See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 345-46 (2011); In re Prudential Ins. Co. Am. Sales Practice Litig. Agent Actions, 148 F.3d 283, 309 (3d Cir. 1998). Under Rule 23(a), Plaintiffs must demonstrate that: (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).

         “Rule 23 does not set forth a mere pleading standard, ” but instead, “[a] party seeking class certification must affirmatively demonstrate [her] compliance with the Rule--that is, [she] must be prepared to prove that there are in fact sufficiently numerous parties, common questions of law or fact, etc.” Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350. The Supreme Court has repeatedly “recognized . . . that ‘sometimes it may be necessary for the court to probe behind the pleadings before coming to rest on the certification question, ' and that certification is proper only if ‘the trial court is satisfied, after a rigorous analysis, that the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) have been satisfied.'”[2]Id. at 350-51 (quoting Gen. Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon,457 U.S. 147, 160-61 ...


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