In Williams v. Emergency Groups’ Office, 2012 WL 1032700 (2012), the Court of Appeal affirmed, in an unpublished decision, the trial court’s denial of class certification under the Rosenthal Act for alleged infirmities in the collection of medical bills.The Court of Appeal found, in part, that the Plaintiffs’ class definition was too broad because it necessarily would have included non-delinquent accounts, that are not subject to the Rosenthal Act.
A “debt” means money “due or owing or alleged to be due or owing from a natural person to another person.” (Civ.Code, § 1788.2, subd. (d).) We note that the Attorney General has explained that the terms due and owing “have not been defined in the Act and may have different meanings depending upon their context. ‘Due’ generally means ‘having reached the date at which payment is required’ [citation] or ‘immediately enforceable’ [citation]. ‘Owing’ generally means ‘due to be paid’ [citation] or ‘that is yet to be paid’ or ‘owed’ [citation]. [¶] We have examined the statutory history of the Act’s provisions in some detail. [Citations.] The legislative purposes appear to be focused entirely upon debts that have become delinquent and subject to immediate collection activities. This construction of the phrase ‘due and owing’ would have the effect of conforming the Act’s provisions to federal law. [Citations.]” (85 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 217–218 (2002).) Thus, “the Act applies to debts that have become delinquent, making them subject to collection.” (Id. at p. 218.) Obligations that are current rather than delinquent because the date for payment is yet to arrive “are not subject to the Act’s requirements.” (Ibid.) An Attorney General opinion is not binding, but it is entitled to considerable weight and we opt to follow it. Absent controlling authority, the opinion “is persuasive because we presume that the Legislature was cognizant of the Attorney General’s construction of [Civil Code section 1788.2, subdivision (d) ] and would have taken corrective action if it disagreed with that construction.” ( County of San Diego v. State of California (1997) 15 Cal.4th 68, 104.)