Plaintiffs filed a federal class action case against Credit Management Services (“CMS”), and four in-house CMS attorneys, alleging violations of the FDCPA.  The putative class members alleged that CMS’ standard-form complaints and discovery requests violated several provisions of the FDCPA.  The district court certified the class, finding that a common question was whether CMS’ standard-form complaints and discovery requests presented a facial violation of the FDCPA.

The Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that the district court failed to conduct a “rigorous analysis” of the Rule 23 factors. The 8th Circuit noted that a debt collector’s factual allegations in state court are not false and misleading simply because the claims were not adequately supported in the complaint.  Rather, whether a standard-form complaint is false and misleading depends on numerous factors, which the district court did not analyze.

This decision should be read as a reminder that the issue of class certification is not, merely, whether there are common questions among the putative class members.  Rather, the issue that the district court must decide is whether there are common questions and whether answering those questions will result in common answers “apt to drive the resolution of the litigation.”

Recently, Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals similarly admonished a trial court for failing to articulate specific reasons why a putative class satisfied each element of Civ. R. 23.