David Schultz Analyzes in ARM Compliance Digest: Judge Grants Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand FDCPA Class Action Back to State Court

November 23, 2021

In the November 22, 2021 edition of the ARM Compliance Digest, Hinshaw partner David Schultz reports on a case in which a judge lowered the attorney’s fees awarded in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case by 50%, ruling that a "hyper-technical" violation of the statute that led a jury to award the plaintiff $200 in damages was fair and reasonable:

Saxerud v. T-H Professional & Medical Collections is an excellent example for valuing a case. First, the plaintiff claimed actual and statutory damages for a false statement about the credit reporting status. The jury awarded no actual damages and the judge commented that any such damages was highly unlikely. The jury then awarded only $200 in statutory damages. The verdict is thus a good indicator of the value for a relative technical violation.

Second, the judge’s ruling on the fees is great. He succinctly laid out the factors and then cut the fees by 50% (from about $30,000 down to $15,000). The reasons for the reductions hit on things we often see in defending similar cases: (1) damages were at most “modest, (2) the violation was technical, (3) it was a relatively simple matter, (4) Plaintiff’s counsel had extensive experience in consumer cases such that there should be efficiencies, (5) "over-lawyering" – the court found it was improper to have two experienced lawyers do a short trial, and (6) the lawyer billed for clerical work.

These rulings can be used with plaintiff’s counsel during negotiations and with a judge or mediator in a settlement conference.

Read the full November 22, 2021 edition of the AccountsRecovery.net Compliance Digest.

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