In Blandina v. Midland Funding, here, Judge Quinones Alejandro held that the $500,000 statutory class action penalty under the FDCPA applies “per lawsuit” and not “per defendant”.
While the Third Circuit has not addressed directly whether the FDCPA statutory limit for class actions provides a maximum amount of recovery per action as opposed to per defendant, the Third Circuit, along with numerous other courts, has found that the $1k statutory limit for individual plaintiff claims provides a maximum recovery per action in actions involving multiple defendants. … Despite the fact that the Third Circuit has not expressly addressed this issue, this Court finds that the Third Circuit’s interpretation of the similarly-worded provision providing a $1k statutory damages limit per action in individual FDCPA claims, dictates a similar outcome with regard to the FDCPA class action damages provision. When interpreting the damages provision applicable to individual FDCPA claims, as defined (in the statute), courts have focused on Congress’ inclusion of the language “in the case of any action by an individual,” preceding the statutory maximum. . . .Giving this language its plain meaning, these courts have determined that Congress intended that there be a $1k statutory maximum per “action,” as opposed to per defendant or per violation. The portion of this same provision which provides the statutory maximum for class actions contains the same reference to an “action.” Specifically, (the statute) commences with “in the case of a class action…” preceding the statutory maximum. Thus, under the same reasoning of the cases cited herein, this Court finds that Congress’ inclusion of the term “action” preceding the statutory maximum of $500k for class actions clearly denotes Congress’ intent that the $500k statutory maximum is per class action, and not per defendant. Because Congress chose to write that class action damages would be limited to $500k per “action,” we find that the plain language of (the statute) provides a maximum statutory damages award of $500k in a class action, regardless of the number of defendants.”