Debt collectors should be aware that they may need to quickly turn over their financial information in class actions brought under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA”). According to a federal district court in Indiana, a motion for class certification is all that is required to make a debt collector’s net worth discoverable, even before class certification.
In class actions under the FDCPA, debt collectors are liable to debtors for actual damages and
[S]uch [an] amount as the court may allow for all other class members, without regard to a minimum individual recovery, not to exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the debt collector.
In Nall v. Allied Interstate, LLC, the court held that this damages cap brings a debt collector’s net worth within the scope of discovery before a class is even certified. Specifically, the court reasoned that a debt collector’s net worth is helpful in evaluating whether a class action is the superior and appropriate method of adjudicating the case. If a debt collector’s net worth is high enough to reach—or come close to—the statutory cap, a large class can potentially resolve all claims against the debt collector efficiently. On the other hand, if the debt collector’s net worth is considerably below the statutory cap the number of class members may need to be limited or class action may not be appropriate.