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Gause v. Medical Business Consultants, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

December 11, 2019

BRANDON GAUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDICAL BUSINESS CONSULTANTS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          ELIZABETH A. KOVACHEVICH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Brandon Gause moves to certify a putative class of individuals who received allegedly unlawful debt collection letters from Defendant Medical Business Consultants, Inc. ("MBC"). (Doc. 18). MBC filed a response on opposition to the motion, (Doc. 21), to which Gause replied, (Doc. 29). The Court will grant the motion.

         I.

         Gause, on behalf of himself and the putative class, sues MBC for alleged violations of the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act ("FCCPA"), Fla. Stat. §§ 559.55, et seq., and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. (Doc. 1). Of the claims that remain, [1] Count I of the complaint alleges MBC's collection letters violate section 559.72(9) of the FCCPA. Id. at ¶¶ 37-46. Count II of the complaint alleges the collection letters violate section 1692e of the FDCPA. Id. at ¶¶ 47-55.

         Gause requests the Court certify the following class of individuals (the "FCCPA Class”):

All individuals in the State of Florida who: (1) were sent letters by Medical Business Consultants, Inc., that are substantially similar or materially identical to the Collection Letter attached to Plaintiffs Complaint;[[2]] (2) relating to a consumer debt, (3) on or after July 18, 2016.

Id. at ¶14. Gause further requests the Court certify the following subclass of individuals (the "FDCPA Subclass”):

All individuals in the State of Florida who: (1) were sent letters by Medical Business Consultants, Inc., that are substantially similar or materially identical to the Collection Letter attached to Plaintiffs Complaint; (2) relating to a consumer debt, (3) that Defendant acquired after it was in default, (4) on or after July 18, 2017.

Id. at ¶ 15.

         II.

         Rule 23, Fed. R. Civ. P., governs class certification. Preliminarily, the movant must meet the following requirements of Rule 23(a), Fed. R. Civ. P: (1) "the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable” ("numerosity”); (2) "there are questions of law or fact common to the class” ("commonality”); (3) "the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class” ("typicality"); and (4) "the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class" ("adequacy"). If the movant satisfies the requirements of Rule 23(a), Fed. R. Civ. P., the movant must meet at least one of the three requirements of Rule 23(b)(1)-(3), Fed.R.Civ.P. The determination of class certification is strictly procedural; Rule 23, Fed. R. Civ. P., grants no authority "to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the merits of a suit to determine whether it may be maintained as a class action." Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, All U.S. 156, 177 (1974). The movant must affirmatively establish that the factual record demonstrates the requirements of Rule 23(a) and (b), Fed. R. Civ. P., are sufficiently met. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350 (2011); Valley Drug Co. v. Geneva Pharms., Inc., 350 F.3d 1181, 1188 (11th Cir. 2003).

         III.

         Gause has met the numerosity requirement. The Eleventh Circuit has indicated that more than forty putative class members is generally enough to satisfy the numerosity requirement. See Cox v. Amer. Cast Iron Pipe Co., 784 F.2d 1546, 1553 (11th Cir. 1986). Here, the complaint alleges, and MBC concedes, there are more than forty putative class members. (Doc. 1 at¶16); (Doc. 21 at 16).

         Gause has met the commonality requirement. By definition, the putative class contains only individuals who share a common question of law, i.e., whether the nearly identical collection letters sent to the putative class members violate the FCCPA and/or the FDCPA. Each putative class member's claim will rise or fall with the resolution of that common ...


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