Evon v. Law Offices of Mickell

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 08-01-2012
  • Case #: 10-16615; 10-17836
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge B. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges Noonan and Paez; Dissent by Judge Noonan
  • Full Text Opinion

A debt collector’s practice of sending collection letters addressed to the debtor and in “care of” the debtor’s employer without obtaining the debtor’s prior consent constitutes a per se violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Defendant Law Offices of Sidney Mickell (“Mickell”) was assigned to Catherine Evon for debt collection. Mickell sent a debt collection letter to Evon at her place of employment in “care of” her employer, and various individuals read the letter before Evon received it. Evon filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Mickell’s act of sending the “care of” letter was a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s (“FDCPA”) ban on communications with third parties. Evon further argued that the contents of the letter violated the FDCPA because the language was false and misleading. The district court denied Evon’s motion for class certification and partial motion for summary judgment, and granted Mickell’s motion for summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment, finding that Mickell’s act of sending “care of” letters was a per se violation of the FDCPA, because Mickell failed to obtain the debtors’ consent to send letters to their employers. However, the Ninth Circuit determined that the letter’s contents did not violate the FDCPA, because the language was not misleading or false. The Court reversed the denial of class certification, because the numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy were not lacking in this case. The Court remanded for consideration of whether one of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b) factors was satisfied, and for proper “lodestar” calculation of attorney’s fees. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

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