I talked about this great decision by Judge Bataillon in an earlier post here.
But I figured with the recent certification of the class by the new federal judge, Judge Rossiter, the case merited another round of hearty applause.
Judge Rossiter recently approved the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, and for preliminary approval of a class action settlement. What does this mean? Basically, it means that the court and the parties have agreed to parameters for defining what consumers are included in the class action and what the terms of settlement will be.
Here are the parameters (see if they apply to you):
- Must have an address in Nebraska;
- Credit Management Services served a county court complaint on you after January 1, 2008 (NCPA), or after December 18, 2010 (FDCPA);
- CMS’ complaint asked for attorneys fees and prejudgment interest and costs;
- CMS did not provide you notice of the claim 90 days before filing the county court complaint; and
- CMS’ complaint was an effort to collect a debt.
As ordered by the court, CMS will pay $198,000.00 into the settlement fund, to be disbursed to persons who fall into this class of consumers. CMS is also ordered by the court to distribute notices by postcard to anyone who may have been affected by this decision, so if you think you fall into this category, keep your eyes peeled when looking through your mail.
In order to be part of the class, you have to fill out a claim form. I believe the court said individuals who may be part of this class have 60 days from the day the notification postcards are mailed out to fill out a claim and become part of the class.
Again, kudos to Pam Car, attorney in Omaha, for her great work on behalf of Nebraska consumers.
For those of you Nebraskans who might have missed this article, published in the Lincoln Journal-Star, as well as ProPublica, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast, you should read it. The author explores how rampant debt collection lawsuits have become in the state of Nebraska – particularly, the overwhelming amount of lawsuits filed by Credit Management Services.
In case you don’t feel like reading a whole other article (you’re busy, I get it), here are some take aways:
- In 2013 Credit Management Services filed 30,000 lawsuits, which is more than all of the other Nebraska collection agencies combined. That amounts to filing approximately 120 lawsuits per business day.
- “From 2008 to 2014, CMS seized at least $88 million from Nebraskans’ wages and bank accounts, according to court data analyzed by ProPublica.”
- “In 2013, Cook County, Illinois, which contains Chicago and has a population of over 5 million, had about the same number of collection suits as Nebraska with its population of fewer than 2 million. That year, it cost $172 in Cook County to file suit for the sort of small amounts that predominate in Nebraska, where the fee was $45.”
- Many of the debtors are low income (making $30,000 or less annually), and many of the debts being collected on are less than $700.
This article shows not only how collector-friendly Nebraska laws are (which begs the question, why isn’t someone in the state legislature taking this cause up already?), but also reinforces my belief that everyone should be educated on their consumer rights. And hopefully get educated before you get that call demanding payment for a past-due medical bill or over due credit card account.
Here’s the link to the article again, in case you missed it at the top: