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MIDLAND NATIONAL CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT THROWN OUT - NEW SETTLEMENT IN WORKS. I had posted this at the end of the old Midland thread, but it get buried. Brent v midland funding FDCPA case was combined with others in a nationwide class action called Vasalle v Midland back in 2010 a settlement was reached in 2011 , over 38 state Attorney generals' and the FTC's objections ( boith filed amicus briefs opposing the settlement terms) And finally the settlement was object to by a number of individuals, and was appealed to the 6th Circuit Federal court of Appeals. The settlement was thrown out by the appeals court and remanded back to the Northern district court of Ohio for a new settlement full text at link; http://scholar.googl...126&as_ylo=2012 highlights; Eight objectors-appellants objected to the settlement, arguing that the settlement was unfair, unreasonable, and inadequate, that the district court abused its discretion in certifying the nationwide settlement class, and that the notice to prospective class members did not satisfy due process. For the following reasons, we REVERSE the district court's order approving the settlement, VACATE the judgment certifying the nationwide settlement class and the award of attorney fees, and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. _____ Despite the wide discretion we must afford the district court in applying these factors, this disparity in relief is so great that we conclude the district court abused its discretion in finding that the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. First, the named plaintiffs receive the primary benefit of the settlement: the exoneration of debts owed to Midland. If the 1.44 million unnamed class members received this benefit, like Brent, they would be absolved of debts in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Instead, the settlement actually prevents the unnamed class members from using Midland's use of false affidavits against Midland in any other lawsuit, virtually assuring that Midland will be able to collect on these debts. Finally, the relief actually provided to the unnamed class members is perfunctory at best. First, provided they respond to the notice, the unnamed class members receive $17.38. Second, the settlement provides for one year of injunctive relief, overseen by a retired federal judge, under which Midland is required to change its policies. The $17.38 payment can only be described as de minimis, especially in comparison to the now-forgiven debt of $4,516.57 owed by Brent. We can safely assume that many of the 1.44 million class members' debts are in the thousands or at least hundreds of dollars. The one-year injunction is likewise of little value for three reasons. First, it does not actually prohibit Midland from creating false affidavits; rather, it only requires Midland to change its policies and provides oversight of this process. Second, the injunction only lasts one year, after which Midland is free to resume its predatory practices should it choose to do so. Third, the injunction offers only prospective relief that likely does not benefit class members at all. For the foregoing reasons, the settlement was unfair to the unnamed class members, and the district court therefore abused its discretion in approving the settlement as "fair, reasonable, and adequate." Appellants cite several alleged deficiencies in class notice, one of which is dispositive. Namely, the notice does not explain the fact that the release of claims impairs the class members' ability to vacate the allegedly fraudulent judgments Midland obtained against them in state court lawsuits. Rather, the notice only states that by not objecting, the class members give Midland a "release." The notice states that "[a] release means you can't sue or be part of any other lawsuit against [Midland] about the claims or issues in this lawsuit, or any other claims arising out of affidavits attached or executed in support of collection complaints filed against Class Members by [Midland]." This language is insufficient to notify a non-attorney class member that by not objecting, he or she loses the right to use Midland's false affidavits against Midland in their debt-collection actions. The failure of the notice to mention this fact is not just "any ground" on which a class member might object; rather, it is the principal ground. The unnamed class members' greatest interest is their ability to contest these allegedly fraudulent judgments. For this reason, the class notice does not "`fairly apprise . . . prospective members of the class of the terms of the proposed settlement.'" UAW, 497 F.3d at 630 (quoting Grunin, 513 F.2d at 122). Accordingly, we find the district court erred in finding that the notice to the class satisfied due process. I'm so lost w/o my cards without all those magnetic strips, my purse doesn't point north anymore...
MONIQUE SYKES et al., Plaintiffs, v. MEL HARRIS AND ASSOCIATES, LLC, et al., Defendants. No. 09 Civ. 8486 (DC). United States District Court, S.D. New York. September 4, 2012. In this case, four plaintiffs allege that a debt-buying company, a law firm, a process service company, and others engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain default judgments against them and more than 100,000 other consumers in state court. Defendants allegedly acted in concert to defraud these consumers in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the "FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq., New York General Business Law ("GBL") § 349, and New York Judiciary Law § 487. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated individuals. They move for class certification. The motion is granted. Specifically, the "Leucadia defendants" include Leucadia, L-Credit, LLC, LR Credit, LLC, LR Credit 10, LLC, LR Credit 12, LLC, LR Credit 14, LLC, LR Credit 18, LLC, and LR Credit 21, LLC, Joseph A. Orlando, Philip M. Cannella, and LR Credit John/Jane Does 1-20. (See Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22-31). The "Mel Harris defendants" include Mel Harris, Michael Young, David Waldman, Kerry Lutz, Todd Fabacher, and Mel Harris John/Jane Does 1-20. (See id. ¶¶ 14-21). The "Samserv defendants" include Samserv, William Mlotok, Benjamin Lamb, Michael Mosquera, John Andino, and Samserv John/Jane Does 1-20. (See id. ¶¶ 32-38).