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Linehan v. Allianceone Receivables Management, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 19, 2017

TIMOTHY LINEHAN, on behalf of Plaintiff and a class, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIANCEONE RECEIVABLES MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF LINEHAN'S MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION

          John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Timothy Linehan's motion to certify class (Dkt. No. 369). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby DENIES certification for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts underlying these consolidated cases have been repeatedly set forth by the Court and will not be repeated here. (See, e.g., Dkt. No. 26 at 1-2.) The Court has also previously addressed the question of certification in this case with respect to numerous other Plaintiffs with claims nearly identical to Linehan's. (See generally Dkt. No. 257.) There, the Court was asked to certify a “Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) Class” defined as: “All persons sued by Defendants in a Division of the King County District Court in which they did not reside, on or after the date one year prior to the filing of the consolidated actions.” (See Dkt. No. 198 at 2.) The Court declined to certify the class. (Dkt. No. 257 at 1.)

         Linehan now seeks to certify the following class: “(a) all natural persons (b) sued by defendant (c) in a King County District Court division (d) other than one in which the person resided at the time the action was filed or the one where the person signed a contract upon which the debt is based (e) where either the original action or a past judgment proceeding was filed on or after a date one year prior to the filing of this action, and less than 20 days after the filing of this action.” (Dkt. No. 369 at 1-2.) This proposed class is essentially identical to the one previously rejected by the Court.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard for Class Certification

         A party seeking to litigate a claim as a class representative must affirmatively satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and the requirements of at least one of the categories under Rule 23(b). Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 345 (2011); Mazza v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 666 F.3d 581, 588 (9th Cir. 2012). In determining whether the plaintiffs have carried this burden, the Court must conduct a “rigorous analysis.” General Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161 (1982). This inquiry may “entail some overlap with the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim, ” though the Court considers the merits only to the extent that they overlap with the requirements of Rule 23 and allow the Court to determine the certification issue on an informed basis. Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 657 F.3d 970, 981 (9th Cir. 2011). The ultimate decision to certify a class is within the Court's discretion. Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935, 944 (9th Cir. 2009).

         B. Rule 23(a) Requirements

         Under Rule 23(a), one or more members of a class may sue as representative plaintiffs only if four requirements are met: (1) the class is so numerous that joinder is impracticable; (2) the claims or defenses of representative parties are typical of those of the class; (3) the representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the absent class members; and (4) there are common questions of law or fact to the class.

         1. Numerosity

         The numerosity requirement requires the examination of the specific facts of each case, though “in general, courts find the numerosity requirement satisfied when a class includes at least 40 members.” Rannis v. Recchia, 2010 WL 2124096 at *4 (9th Cir. May 27, 2010); see also Troy v. Kehe Food Distributors, Inc., 276 F.R.D. 642, 652 (W.D. Wash. 2011) (certifying a class of 43 to 54 members). In the previous certification order, the Court found numerosity satisfied, reasoning that “Plaintiffs presented evidence to show the class members may number in the thousands, making joinder unquestionably impracticable.” (Dkt. No. 257 at 3.)

         Here, Linehan asserts that the class is made up of 60 members, exceeding the informal 40-person bar. (Dkt. No. 369 at 2.) In response, AllianceOne raises arguments about identifying class members that are similar to those rejected by the Court in the previous certification order. (Dkt. No. 379 at ...


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