In Nall v. Allied Interstate, LLC, 2015 WL 6529233, at *1-2 (S.D.Ind. 2015), Judge Baker allowed net worth discovery in an FDCPA class action as relevant towards the propriety of class certification.
The cases cited by Plaintiff support the requested discovery. See Green, 997 F.Supp.2d at 935–36 (finding net worth helpful in deciding class certification). Net worth is helpful in evaluating whether a class action is the superior and appropriate method of adjudicating the case. Id.; Bode v. Encore Receivable Management Inc., No. 05–CV–1013, 2006 WL 801017, at *1 (E.D.Wisc. March 29, 2006). This puts net worth within the scope of relevancy under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 because it is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of evidence useful for the determination of whether a class action is superior to other methods of adjudication.” Bode, 2006 WL 801017, at *1. The FDCPA puts net worth directly in issue for anticipated class actions and this information should be made discoverable from the onset. Muha v. Encore Receivable Management, Inc., 236 F.R.D. 429, 430 (E.D.Wisc.2006). “[A] party need not have a class certified to justify the relevance of a request for a defendant to state its net worth in an FDCPA action.” Bode, 2006 WL 801017, at *2. In Marshall, the court denied discovery of the defendant’s net worth. The Marshall court explained that the financial information was sensitive and defendant had a strong interest in its protection. 2011 WL 3882284 at *2. However, Marshall is distinguishable because plaintiff had not yet filed a motion for class certification, but only expressed an intention to do so. Id. The Marshall court denied discovery on net worth because without clearly pursuing a class action under the FDCPA, the debt collector’s net worth was not statutorily relevant. Id. Since net worth determines the cap on class recovery under the FDCPA, it is relevant and discoverable as soon as the class certification process is initiated. Green characterized Marshall as an “anomaly.” 997 F.Supp.2d at 935. Here, Plaintiff has filed her motion for class certification. Defendants’ net worth is therefore relevant, as it is the determining factor for capping potential damages. Green, 997 F.Supp.2d at 935–36; Bode, 2006 WL 801017, at *1. If Defendants’ net worth is high enough to reach the statutory cap (or at least come close), a large class can potentially resolve all claims against Defendants. On the other hand, if Defendants’ net worth caps potential damages considerably below the statutory amount, the number of class members may have to be limited or it may turn out that pursuing a class action is not appropriate. Simply put, net worth is relevant prior to the Court’s ruling on Plaintiff’s motion for class certification in this FDCPA case. Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to this discovery.