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Pierre v. Midland Credit Management, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 28, 2019

RENETRICE R. PIERRE, Individually and on Behalf of others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
MIDLAND CREDIT MANAGEMENT, INC., a Kansas Corporation, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, JUDGE

         Plaintiff Renetrice Pierre, individually and on behalf of a class, alleges that Defendant sent debt collection letters that violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Pierre raised two FDCPA claims: (1) a class claim that Defendant falsely represented the status of the debt, used deceptive means to attempt to collect the debt, and used unfair or unconscionable means to attempt to collect the debt; and (2) an individual claim that Defendant falsely represented the amount of Pierre's debt. On February 5, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment as to liability on Count I in favor of Pierre and the class. On July 29, 2019, approximately one month before a jury trial was set to begin in this case, Defendant moved to dismiss Count I on the basis that Pierre lacks standing. Defendant moved in the alternative to decertify the class. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 152) and Motion to Decertify Class (Dkt. No. 177) are denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court laid out the factual background of this case in greater detail in its summary judgment opinion, Pierre v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., No. 16 C 2895, 2018 WL 723278 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 5, 2018), and will provide only a brief overview of the facts here. Pierre accumulated debt on a credit card account with Target National Bank. She failed to pay off the debt and went into default. Target National Bank sold Pierre's debt to Midland Funding, LLC (“Midland Funding”) for which Defendant Midland Credit Management, Inc. (“Midland Credit”) is a debt collector.

         Midland Credit mailed Pierre a debt collection letter in September of 2015. The letter stated that Pierre had a “current balance” of $7, 578.57. (Demand Let., Ex. A to Pl.'s Sec. Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 40-1.) The letter encouraged Pierre to “[a]ct now to maximize your savings and put this debt behind you.” (Id.) The letter then presented three “options”: (1) 40% off the advertised balance if Pierre paid $4, 647.14 by a “due date” of October 2, 2015; (2) 20% off if Pierre made 12 monthly payments of $505.23, with the first payment “due” on October 2, 2015; and (3) payments “as low as $50 per month.” (Id.) Finally, the letter included the following disclosure:

The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it, we will not report it to any credit reporting agency, and payment or non-payment of this debt will not affect your credit score.

(Demand Let.) However, at the time Midland Credit sent the letter, the statute of limitations on a collection action for Pierre's debt had run. See 735 ILCS 5/13-205. Thus, it would have been impossible for Midland Funding or Midland Credit to sue Plaintiff to recover the debt in question.

         Pierre filed suit in March of 2016. She brought two counts: (1) a putative class claim that Defendant falsely represented the status of the debt, used deceptive means to attempt to collect the debt, and used unfair or unconscionable means to attempt to collect the debt; and (2) an individual claim that Defendant falsely represented the amount of Pierre's debt.

         On April 21, 2017, the Court certified a class defined as follows:

All persons with Illinois addresses to whom Midland Credit Management, Inc. sent, from March 7, 2015 through March 7, 2016, a letter containing the following statement: “The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it, we will not report it to any credit reporting agency, and payment or non-payment will not affect your credit score.

Pierre v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., No. 16 C 2895, 2017 WL 1427070, at *11 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 21, 2017).

         On February 5, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment as to liability on Count I in favor of Pierre and the class. Defendant now moves to dismiss Count I under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of standing or, in the alternative, to decertify the class. The Court will address each in turn.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Rule ...


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