Midland Funding LLC v. Colvin, NO. 5-18-15

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtPRESTON, J.
Citation2019 Ohio 5382,151 N.E.3d 130
Parties MIDLAND FUNDING LLC, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Cassandra COLVIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberNO. 5-18-15
Decision Date30 December 2019

151 N.E.3d 130
2019 Ohio 5382

MIDLAND FUNDING LLC, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Cassandra COLVIN, Defendant-Appellant.

NO. 5-18-15

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Hancock County.

Date of Decision: December 30, 2019


Ronald I. Frederick, Cleveland, and Gregory S. Reichenbach, Bluffton, for Appellant

H. Toby Schisler, Cincinnati, for Appellees, Midland Funding LLC, Midland Credit Management, Inc., and Encore Capital Group, Inc.

PRESTON, J.

{¶1} Defendant/counterclaim-plaintiff/third-party-plaintiff-appellant. Cassandra Colvin ("Colvin"), appeals the June 12, 2018 judgment of the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas denying her motion for class certification. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

{¶2} On April 22, 2013, plaintiff/counterclaim-defendant-appellee, Midland Funding LLC ("Midland"), filed a complaint against Colvin in the Hardin County Municipal

151 N.E.3d 135

Court. (Doc. No. 8). Midland alleged that Colvin had defaulted on a Chase Bank credit-card account, that it had purchased Colvin's delinquent account from Chase Bank, and that, despite Midland's informal efforts to collect the amount owing, Colvin failed to pay the balance due. (Id. ). Midland requested judgment against Colvin in the amount of $950.60 along with other related relief. (Id. ).

{¶3} On June 5, 2013, Colvin filed a motion to dismiss Midland's complaint. (Id. ). In her motion, Colvin alleged that she "lives in Hancock County, Ohio, and has never lived in Hardin County, Ohio." (Id. ). In addition, she noted that Midland "made no allegation that there was any contract signed in Hardin County, or any other connection to Hardin County." (Id. ). Colvin thus argued that the Hardin County Municipal Court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over Midland's action because Midland's action did not have a territorial connection to the court. (Id. ). On June 14, 2013, Midland filed a memorandum in opposition to Colvin's motion to dismiss. (Id. ).

{¶4} On June 27, 2013, the Hardin County Municipal Court issued its ruling on Colvin's motion to dismiss. (Id. ). The court found that Colvin "at all times relevant lived in Hancock County, Ohio" and that "there does not appear to be any nexus to the territory over which [the Hardin County Municipal Court] has jurisdiction." (Id. ). However, the court did not dismiss Midland's action outright. (Id. ). Instead, the court transferred Midland's action to the Findlay Municipal Court at Midland's cost. (Id. ).

{¶5} On September 3, 2013, after the case had been transferred to the Findlay Municipal Court, Colvin filed a combined answer to Midland's complaint, counterclaim against Midland, and third-party complaint adding third-party-defendants-appellees, Midland Credit Management, Inc. ("Midland Credit") and Encore Capital Group, Inc. ("Encore"), as third-party defendants.1 (Id. ). In her counterclaim and third-party complaint, Colvin alleged that the Midland parties violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") when Midland filed suit against her in the Hardin County Municipal Court because she did not reside within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hardin County Municipal Court at the time Midland filed its complaint and she did not sign the contract underlying her alleged debt to Chase Bank within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hardin County Municipal Court.2 (Id. ). See 15 U.S.C. 1692i(a). Colvin further maintained that the Midland parties "regularly file[ ] collection actions against Ohio residents in counties where the defendant does not live and did not sign a contract, including * * * instances where [the Midland parties] used the city or village of defendants' postal address without determining the physical location of the address," in violation of the FDCPA. (Doc. No. 8). Accordingly, Colvin asserted claims on behalf of a class of plaintiffs who were injured by the Midland parties' alleged violations of the FDCPA. (Id. ). Colvin referred to this class of plaintiffs

151 N.E.3d 136

as the "FDCPA Class."3 (Id. ). Colvin requested a declaration that the Midland parties violated the FDCPA when they brought suit against class members in improper venues, actual and statutory damages as provided for by 15 U.S.C. 1692k(a)(1)-(2), and costs of the action and reasonable attorney's fees as provided for by 15 U.S.C. 1692k(a)(3). (Id. ).

{¶6} The same day that Colvin filed her answer, counterclaim, and third-party complaint, Colvin filed a motion to transfer the case to the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. No. 8). On September 5, 2013, the Findlay Municipal Court granted Colvin's motion to transfer, and the case was subsequently transferred to the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas. (Id. ).

{¶7} On November 7, 2013, the Midland parties filed their joint answer to Colvin's counterclaim and third-party complaint. (Doc. No. 20). On December 5, 2013, the Midland parties filed their amended joint answer to Colvin's counterclaim and third-party complaint. (Doc. No. 23).

{¶8} In March 2015, Colvin moved to consolidate her case with case number 2015-CV-94, Caitlin Gilbert v. Midland Funding LLC (" Gilbert "). See Gilbert v. Midland Funding, L.L.C. , 3d Dist. Hancock No. 5-19-11, 2019-Ohio-5295, 2019 WL 7049635, ¶ 5. On May 21, 2015, the trial court ordered that Colvin's case be consolidated with Gilbert for purposes of discovery. Id.

{¶9} On November 30, 2015, Colvin moved for leave to file an amended counterclaim/third-party complaint. (Doc. No. 68). On December 28, 2015, the Midland parties filed a memorandum in opposition to Colvin's motion for leave to file an amended counterclaim/third-party complaint. (Doc. No. 71). On January 15, 2016, the trial court granted Colvin's motion. (Doc. No. 73). On February 22, 2016, Colvin filed her amended counterclaim/third-party complaint. (Doc. No. 78). On March 4, 2016, the Midland parties filed their answer to Colvin's amended counterclaim/third-party complaint. (Doc. No. 79).

{¶10} On June 1, 2017, Colvin filed a motion for class certification. (Doc. No. 106). Colvin sought to certify one class defined as:

a. All persons who have been sued in Ohio Courts by [the Midland parties] from April 22, 2012 until the time this class is certified;

b. where the address on the face of the complaint and/or the address at which the Defendant was served are not within the geographical limits of the court where the suit was filed; or

c. where [the Midland parties] filed suit in a court where the contract was not signed; and

d. the debt alleged by [the Midland parties] was incurred for personal, family or household use.4

(Id. ). On June 22, 2017, the Midland parties filed their memorandum in opposition to Colvin's motion for class certification.5

151 N.E.3d 137

(Doc. No. 107). On July 14, 2017, Colvin filed a reply in support of her motion for class certification. (Doc. No. 108). On July 20, 2017, the Midland parties filed a reply memorandum in support of their motion to strike Colvin's class claims. (Doc. No. 109).

{¶11} On June 12, 2018, the trial court denied Colvin's motion for class certification. (Doc. No. 115). The trial court first concluded that the proposed class definition is unambiguous, that the proposed class is sufficiently numerous, and that Colvin is a member of the proposed class. (Id. ). However, the trial court held that class certification is inappropriate because there are not questions of law or fact common to the class, Colvin's claims and defenses are not typical of the claims and defenses of the proposed class, and Colvin cannot fairly and adequately protect the interests of the proposed class. (Id. ). See Civ.R. 23(A)(2)-(4). Because the trial court concluded that Colvin and the proposed class fail to satisfy Civ.R. 23(A)'s commonality, typicality, and adequacy-of-representation requirements, it did not conduct an analysis to determine whether the proposed class satisfies the requirements of Civ.R. 23(B)(3). (Id. ).

{¶12} On July 11, 2018, Colvin filed a notice of appeal. (Doc. No. 116). She raises two assignments of error for our review.

Assignment of Error No. I

The Trial Court abused its discretion in denying Ms. Colvin's motion for class certification based on the incorrect premise that her claims were not common or typical of the purported class and that she was not an adequate representative, because she has differing damages.

{¶13} In her first assignment of error, Colvin argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying her motion for class certification. Colvin contends that the entire basis of the trial court's conclusion that Civ.R. 23(A)'s commonality, typicality, and adequacy-of-representation requirements are not satisfied was the trial court's belief that, because she is seeking only statutory damages under the FDCPA, she cannot represent class members with claims for both actual damages and statutory damages. (Appellant's Brief at 6). She argues that the trial court was mistaken and that " Civ.R. 23 permits class certification despite differing damages among class members and, in the FDCPA setting, permits a class member claiming only statutory damages to represent members claiming both statutory and actual damages." (Id. )...

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1 practice notes
  • In re N.F., NO. 8-19-39
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 30 Diciembre 2019
    ...found that the notice is sufficient to satisfy a putative father's due process rights as it informed the putative father that he needed 151 N.E.3d 130 to file an objection within 14 days and appear at the hearing if he objects to the adoption. In re A.N. , 2013-Ohio-3871, 997 N.E.2d 1244, a......
1 cases
  • In re N.F., NO. 8-19-39
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 30 Diciembre 2019
    ...found that the notice is sufficient to satisfy a putative father's due process rights as it informed the putative father that he needed 151 N.E.3d 130 to file an objection within 14 days and appear at the hearing if he objects to the adoption. In re A.N. , 2013-Ohio-3871, 997 N.E.2d 1244, a......

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