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Rodriguez v. Experian Information Solutions Inc.

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

February 22, 2018

JESSE RODRIGUEZ, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,


          The Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.


         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification and to be Appointed Class Counsel[1]. Dkt. # 42. Defendants oppose the Motion. Dkt. # 43. Having considered the parties' briefs and balance of the record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion.


         Plaintiff Jesse Rodriguez, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, filed suit against Defendants Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”) and AllianceOne, claiming that Defendants violated the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”). Dkt. # 1. AllianceOne is a debt collecting agency that contracted with the City of Seattle to collect on unpaid parking ticket judgments. Dkt. # 37. When collecting a judgment, AllianceOne would typically attempt to work with the judgment debtor to pay off the unpaid debt. If the debtor did not cooperate or was unresponsive, AllianceOne would request the debtor's credit report to obtain updated contact information or attachable assets. Dkt. # 39 Ex. B.

         The City of Seattle referred several of Plaintiff's parking tickets to AllianceOne for collection. Dkt. # 37. These unpaid parking tickets were eventually reduced to judgment[2]. Dkt. # 9. On December 14, 2013 and April 3, 2014, AllianceOne requested and received Plaintiff's credit report from Experian in order to obtain more information to aid them in collecting payment of Plaintiff's parking ticket judgments. Dkt. # 37. AllianceOne then attempted to garnish one of Plaintiff's bank accounts. The garnishment was unsuccessful because Plaintiff had no money in that account. Dkt. # 36. On May 1, 2015, Plaintiff applied for and was denied a credit card from Bank of America. Id. At that time, Plaintiff learned that he had collection accounts reporting on his credit report. Id. Plaintiff then paid off these debts. Dkt. # 37. On August 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed this suit, alleging, among other things, that AllianceOne violated the FCRA when it requested Plaintiff's credit report for an alleged impermissible purpose. Dkt. # 1.

         Plaintiff argues that AllianceOne violated the FCRA every time it requested and obtained a consumer credit report from Experian as part of the collection process on judgments stemming from unpaid parking tickets. Accordingly, Plaintiff filed this class action lawsuit.

         On October 20, 2016, the Court issued an Order dismissing this action with prejudice as to Defendant Experian. Dkt. # 28. On October 3, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part AllianceOne's motion for summary judgment. Dkt. # 48.


         The Court's decision to certify a class is discretionary. Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935, 944 (9th Cir. 2009). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (“Rule 23”) guides the Court's exercise of discretion. A plaintiff “bears the burden of demonstrating that he has met each of the four requirements of Rule 23(a) and at least one of the [three alternative] requirements of Rule 23(b).” Lozano v. AT&T Wireless Servs., Inc., 504 F.3d 718, 724 (9th Cir. 2007). Rule 23(a) requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that the proposed class is sufficiently numerous, that it presents common issues of fact or law, that it will be led by one or more class representatives with claims typical of the class, and that the class representative will adequately represent the class. Gen. Tel. Co. of the S.W. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161 (1982); Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).

         If a plaintiff satisfies the Rule 23(a) requirements, he must also show that the proposed class action meets one of the three requirements of Rule 23(b). Zinser v. Accufix Research Inst., Inc., 253 F.3d 1180, 1186 (9th Cir. 2001). Here, Plaintiffs move for class certification under Rule 23(b)(2) and (b)(3). Rule 23(b)(2) requires that “the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2). Rule 23(b)(2) is met where “a single injunction or declaratory judgment would provide relief to each member of the class.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 360 (2011).

         Plaintiff also seeks certification under Rule 23(b)(3). A class may be certified under this subdivision if: (1) common questions of law and fact predominate over questions affecting individual members, and (2) if a class action is superior to other means to adjudicate the controversy. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). The “predominance” and “superiority” prongs of Rule 23 work together to ensure that certifying a class “would achieve economies of time, effort, and expense, and promote . . . uniformity of decision as to persons similarly situated, without sacrificing procedural fairness or bringing about other undesirable results.” Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 615 (1997) (internal citation and quotation omitted). A “central concern of the Rule 23(b)(3) predominance test is whether ‘adjudication of common issues will help achieve judicial economy.'” Vinole, at 944 (quoting Zinser, 253 F.3d at 1189). Thus, the Court must determine whether resolution of common questions would resolve a “significant aspect” of the class members' claims such that there is “clear justification” for class treatment. Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1022 (9th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted).

         In considering Rule 23's requirements, the Court must engage in a “rigorous analysis, ” but a “rigorous analysis does not always result in a lengthy explanation or in depth review of the record.” Chamberlan v. Ford Motor Co., 402 F.3d 952, 961 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Falcon, 457 U.S. at 161). The Court is neither permitted nor required to conduct a “preliminary inquiry into the merits” of the plaintiff's claims. Blackie v. Barrack, 524 F.2d 891, 901 (9th Cir. 1975) (citing Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 177 (1974)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 advisory committee's note (2003) (“[A]n evaluation of the probable outcome on the merits is not properly part of the certification decision.”); but see Dukes, 564 U.S. at 351 (suggesting that Rule 23 analysis may be inextricable from some judgments on the merits in a particular case). The Court may assume the truth of a plaintiff's substantive allegations, but may require more than bare allegations to determine whether a plaintiff has satisfied the requirements of Rule 23. See, e.g., Blackie, 524 F.2d at 901, n.17; Clark v. Watchie, 513 F.2d 994, 1000 (9th Cir. 1975) (“If the trial judge has made findings as to the provisions of the Rule and their application to the case, his determination of class status should be considered within his discretion.”).

         IV. ...

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