In Spice v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore LLC, 2018 WL 525723, at *8–9 (N.D.Ind., 2018), Judge Springmann certified an FDCPA class over defendant’s objection that the $500,000 statutory cap would only result in de minimus recovery and, therefore, the class action device was not the superior method to adjudicate the dispute.
The Defendant counters that a class action is not the superior means of adjudicating the claims of the proposed class because each class member’s recovery will be de minimis compared to the potential recovery in an individual action. Compare 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(B) (class recovery “not to exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the debt collector”), with 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(A) (permitting individual action recovery up to $1,000).  The Court disagrees. The plain language of the FDCPA supports class certification even where individual class member recovery is likely de minimis. The statutory language provides that class damages are to be awarded “without regard to a minimum individual recovery….” 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(B)(ii). Additionally, proposed class members may not be aware of their rights, or may not be willing to take on the burden of an individual action. As such, in the Seventh Circuit, “[w]hen individual class members are offered the right and opportunity to opt out of the class action, the statutory language ‘without regard to a minimum individual recovery’ generally controls.” Mace v. Van Ru Credit Corp., 109 F.3d 338, 344 (7th Cir. 1997) (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(B)(ii)). The personal notice and opt-out requirements of Rule 23(b)(3) protect the interests of those who qualify as class members and desire to bring their claims separately. See Carnegie v. Household Int’l Inc., 376 F.3d 656, 661 (7th Cir. 2004) (“Rule 23 allows district courts to devise imaginative solutions to problems created by the presence in a class action litigation of individual damages issues.”). The Court, therefore, finds that proceeding as a class is superior to other methods for adjudicating the claims of the members of the proposed class, even if individual class member recovery is likely de minimis.