Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hargreaves v. Associated Credit Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

May 23, 2017

MYRON HARGREAVES, CORTNEY HALVORSEN, BONNIE FREEMAN, and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
ASSOCIATED CREDIT SERVICES, INC., a Washington corporation, and PAUL J. WASSON AND MONICA WASSON, individually and the marital community, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION WITH LEAVE TO RENEW

          THOMAS O. RICE Chief United States District Judge

         BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. ECF No. 27. This motion was heard with oral argument on May 18, 2017. Kirk D. Miller appeared on behalf of the Plaintiffs. J. Gregory Lockwood appeared on behalf of Defendant Associated Credit Services, Inc. Molly M. Moffett and Kevin J. Curtis appeared on behalf of Defendants Paul J. Wasson and Monica Wasson. The Court has reviewed the briefing and supplemental authority, the record and files herein, and is fully informed.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On April 1, 2016, Plaintiff Myron Hargreaves filed a putative class action against Defendant Associated Credit Services, Inc. (“Associated”) asserting violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.; the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“WCPA”), RCW § 19.86.010 et seq.; and the Washington Collection Agency Act (“WCAA”), RCW § 19.16.100. See ECF No. 1.

         On November 16, 2016, Plaintiff, along with Cortney Halvorsen and Bonnie Freeman (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), filed a First Amended Complaint adding Defendants Paul J. Wasson and Jane Doe Wasson (now known as Monica Wasson). ECF No. 14. Plaintiffs allege that judgment creditor, Associated, and its attorney, Defendant Paul J. Wasson (“Wasson”), misrepresented information in writs of garnishment, which allowed Defendants to unlawfully garnish Plaintiffs' exempt property in violation of the FDCPA. ECF No. 14 at ¶ 7.13. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants' conduct also violates the WCAA and the WCPA. Id. at 18. Plaintiffs assert that a violation of the provisions of the FDCPA and the WCAA are per se violations of the WCPA. ECF Nos. 14 at ¶ 8.20; 38 at 10.

         On November 18, 2016, the Court entered a Jury Trial Scheduling Order, commencing discovery and setting the deadline for moving for class certification no later than April 10, 2017. ECF No. 16 at 2. Defendants Paul J. Wasson and Monica Wasson (collectively, “Wasson Defendants”) filed their Answer to the First Amended Complaint on February 22, 2017[1], and Defendant Associated filed its Answer on March 3, 2017. ECF Nos. 23, 24. Plaintiffs then moved to extend the class certification deadline by sixty (60) days. ECF Nos. 26 - 27. On April 7, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiffs' request. ECF No. 31. The discovery cut-off in this action is October 10, 2017; Plaintiffs stated at oral argument that no discovery has occurred.

         B. Class Certification

         Plaintiffs move to certify a class and assert that class certification is appropriate for all claims stemming from Defendant Associated's and Defendant Wassons' alleged conduct in violation of the FDCPA and the WCPA by: (1) falsely asserting that judgment debtor assets are not exempt; (2) unlawfully garnishing property and collecting fees based on falsely certified writ applications; (3) making false, deceptive, and misleading statements to consumers about exemption rights; and (4) unlawfully profiting to the detriment of putative class members. ECF No. 32 at 4.

         1. Proposed Class Definition

         Plaintiffs proposed in their briefing and at oral argument that the Court certify the following classes and subclasses:

         CLASS A (“FDCPA Class”):

         All individuals who were (1) judgment debtors in a Washington action filed by Defendant Associated to collect unpaid consumer debt; (2) subject to an application for a writ of garnishment signed by Defendant Wasson (as a representative of Defendant Associated), in which he certified that Defendant Associated had reason to believe that the property being garnished was not exempt; (3) where the claims arose from Defendant Associated's conduct that occurred between April 1, 2015 to April 1, 2016; and (4) where, after issuing a writ of garnishment, the class member received a “Notice of Garnishment and Your Rights” form from Defendant Associated stating substantially in part:

OTHER EXEMPTIONS: If the garnishee holds other property of yours, some or all of it may be exempt under RCW 6.15.010, a Washington statute that exempts up to five hundred dollars ($500) of property of your choice (including up to two hundred dollars ($200) in cash or any bank account) and certain other property such as household furnishings, tools of the trade, any motor vehicle (all limited by differing dollar values).

         A.1 (“FDCPA Subclass”): All individuals in Class A who also had exempt property garnished by Defendants.

         CLASS B (“WCPA Class”): All individuals, businesses, or corporations who were (1) judgment debtors in a Washington action filed by Defendant Associated; (2) subject to an application for a writ of garnishment signed by Defendant Wasson (as a representative of Defendant Associated), in which he certified that Defendant Associated had reason to believe that the property being garnished was not exempt; (3) where the claims arose from Defendant Associated's conduct that occurred between April 1, 2012 to April 1, 2016; and (4) where, after issuing a writ of garnishment, the class member received a “Notice of Garnishment and Your Rights” form from Defendant Associated stating substantially in part:

OTHER EXEMPTIONS: If the garnishee holds other property of yours, some or all of it may be exempt under RCW 6.15.010, a Washington statute that exempts up to five hundred dollars ($500) of property of your choice (including up to two hundred dollars ($200) in cash or any bank account) and certain other property such as household furnishings, tools of the trade, any motor vehicle (all limited by differing dollar values).

         B.1 (“WCPA Subclass”): All individuals, businesses, or corporations in Class B who also had exempt property garnished by Defendants.

See ECF No. 32 at 4-5; 38 at 6-7.

         Defendant Associated opposes class certification because the putative class lacks proof to substantiate the numerosity requirement, because state-approved forms cannot form a basis for class certification, and because Plaintiffs' debts are not subject to the FDCPA. ECF No. 34 at 2-8. The Wasson Defendants also oppose class certification on the grounds that some of the putative class members lack standing; the class is not sufficiently ascertainable, overly broad, and constitutes an improper “fail-safe” class; and some of the claims are time-barred and beyond the scope of the FDCPA and WCPA. See ECF No. 36. Moreover, the Wasson Defendants argue that numerous individualized issues predominate over any common issues and Plaintiffs fail to satisfy the superiority requirement. Id.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies class certification at this time.

         FACTS

         The material facts are disputed, but the Court must accept as true the substantive allegations of the class claim. See Blackie v. Barrack, 524 F.2d 891, 901 n.17 (9th Cir. 1975).

         Plaintiffs represent a putative class consisting of similarly situated Washington judgment debtors who were subject to unlawful property garnishment by a collection agency, Defendant Associated, through its attorney, Defendant Wasson. ECF No. 14 at 2. All available funds were garnished from Plaintiffs' respective bank accounts to repay consumer debts, pursuant to a writ of garnishment filed by Defendant Associated. See Id. at 4-14. Defendant Wasson executed declarations on behalf of Associated in support of each writ application and asserted that Associated had “reason to believe” that Plaintiffs' property “was not exempt under Washington or federal law.” Id. at 2. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant Wasson is the equivalent of a “robo-signer” who signs numerous writ applications without any reason to believe the veracity of the statements he makes. Id. at ¶¶ 4.27-4.28, 7.9, 7.11. Defendants sent notices of exemption rights to Plaintiffs post-garnishment that contained materially false and misleading information concerning Plaintiffs' respective cash exemption rights. Id. at ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.