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Powers v. Credit Mgmt. Servs., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 13, 2015

Laura Powers, et al., Plaintiffs - Appellees
v.
Credit Management Services, Inc., et al., Defendants - Appellants

Submitted September 8, 2014

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Omaha.

For Laura Powers, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellee: Owen Randolph Bragg, HORWITZ & HORWITZ, Chicago, IL; Pamela A. Car, William L. Reinbrecht, CAR & REINBRECHT, Omaha, NE.

For Nichole Palmer, Jason Palmer, Plaintiffs - Appellees: Pamela A. Car, William L. Reinbrecht, CAR & REINBRECHT, Omaha, NE.

For Credit Management Services, Inc., Dana K. Fries, Jessica L.V. Piskorski, Brady W. Keith, Michael J. Morledge, Tessa Hermanson, Defendants - Appellants: John M. Guthery, PERRY & GUTHERY, Lincoln, NE; Jessica Lee Prom Klander, Michael August Klutho, Christopher R. Morris, BASSFORD & REMELE, Minneapolis, MN.

Before WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 568

LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

This is an interlocutory appeal of a district court order certifying four classes of Nebraska consumers, an appeal authorized by Rule 23(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Credit Management Services, Inc. (CMS) is a Nebraska corporation engaged in collecting consumer debts assigned to CMS by the original creditor (or by a prior assignee). CMS is a " debt collector" subject to the provisions of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). See 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6).

The record reflects that CMS commences consumer debt collection actions in Nebraska state courts by filing standard-form complaints. The complaints allege, inter alia, that " more than 90 days have elapsed since the presentation of this

Page 569

claim" to the consumer and seek prejudgment interest " pursuant to" Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1801 or § 45-104, and attorney fees " as allowable by law." When named plaintiffs Laura Powers and Nichole and Jason Palmer contested CMS's state court collection complaints (Exhibits A and C to plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint), CMS served nearly identical discovery requests seeking disclosure of detailed employment and financial information, including their rates of compensation and copies of their recent tax returns (Exhibits B and D).

Plaintiffs filed this putative class action against CMS and four in-house CMS attorneys customarily listed in the signature boxes of the standard-form collection complaints and discovery requests. Plaintiffs allege that CMS's standard-form pleadings violate various provisions of the FDCPA, making them unfair or deceptive acts or practices that also violate the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act (NCPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. § 59-1602. In certifying four classes, the district court agreed with plaintiffs that the predominant common question is whether the defendants sent each class member standard collection complaints and discovery requests, which violate the FDCPA and NCPA. Powers v. Credit Mgmt. Servs., Inc., No. 8:11CV436, 2013 WL 3716412, at *5 (D. Neb. July 12, 2013). The four classes consist of persons who received a county court collection complaint or discovery requests seeking to collect a debt " for personal, family, or household purposes," or had such a collection action pending, during the applicable one-year (FDCPA) and four-year (NCPA) limitations periods. We granted CMS leave to appeal and now reverse, concluding that the district court abused its discretion by failing to conduct the " rigorous analysis . . . of what ...


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