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April 2020

Gordon & Rees Chicago Team Secures Denial of Class Certification in Consolidated Cases Pending in Washington Federal Court

On April 15, 2020, the Eastern District of Washington issued its opinion denying class certification in a set of eight consolidated cases involving claims based upon bank garnishment forms issued to plaintiffs.

Chicago Partner Avanti Bakane and Senior Counsel Brian Myers, with integral contributions from Portland Partner Greg Lockwood and legal secretary Heather Coffey, opposed plaintiffs’ class certification attempts by arguing immateriality of the allegedly deficient forms. The Court swiftly agreed, holding that the materiality requirement for Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") misrepresentation claims prevented certification of the putative class.

The Court determined that commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation were not present, because the class representative’s account consisted solely of amounts that were already exempt from garnishment, thereby making the omission of exemptions at issue immaterial. Further, beyond the class representative’s own case, commonality was also not present insofar as some putative class members did not have any accounts at the garnished banks, some putative class members who did have accounts did not have any funds in their accounts, and some putative class members had class action waivers in their credit card agreements.

The win significantly limits the client’s exposure in these consolidated cases and positions the client well The win significantly limits the client’s exposure in these consolidated cases and positions the client well for future litigation related to the materiality of alleged misrepresentations in FDCPA actions.

Avanti D. Bakane
W. Gregory Lockwood
Brian H. Myers