United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ICELA REYES, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
ALLTRAN FINANCIAL LIMITED PARTNERSHIP and JOHN DOES 1-25, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DISCOVERY RE CLASS
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 25, 2018, Plaintiff Icela Reyes filed this two-count
action against Defendant Alltran Financial Limited
Partnership ("Alltran"), a debt collector, on
behalf of a putative class of consumers, alleging abusive,
deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices in violation
of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq.
Plaintiff asserts that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23
pertains to her action in that she commenced it
"individually and on behalf of a class of all others
similarly situated." Doc. 1 (Complaint), at 1. Plaintiff has
not, however, moved for class certification.
their joint "Rule 26(f) Report of Parties' Planning
Meeting" [Doc. 15], the parties have "respectfully
request[ed] the Court's guidance in determining whether
discovery as to class size, scope and certification should be
conducted as a preliminary matter, or only upon the
conclusion of proceedings and upon a finding of liability as
to the underlying claims in this litigation." Doc. 15,
at 4 (¶ V.E.2.) The parties have also reported that
"[s]ettlement is likely." Id., at 3
to Rule 23(c)(1), Fed. R. Civ. P., a district court must rule
on the issue of class certification "[a]t an early
practicable time after a person sues or is sued as a class
representative." As described in the Notes to the Rule,
"[i]n order to give clear definition to the action, this
provision requires the court to determine, as early in the
proceedings as may be practicable, whether an action brought
as a class action is to be so maintained." Such language
suggests that Plaintiff must discover and present the facts
supporting class certification as soon as
"practicable" for the court's consideration.
the "Standing Order on Scheduling in Civil Cases"
of this District provides that "[a]ll motions relating
to . . . class certification . . . shall be filed within 60
days after filing of the complaint." Civil Standing
Order, at ¶ 2(b). The Complaint in this action was filed
five months ago, on January 25, 2018. As described
supra, although Plaintiff stated in the Complaint
that she has brought her action "individually and on
behalf of a class of all others similarly situated" and
has alleged certain facts to support the existence of such a
class, she has filed no formal motion for class
certification. See Doc. 1, at 1, 3-6.
to Rule 23, Fed. R. Civ. P., "[i]n determining whether
class certification is appropriate, a district court must
first ascertain whether the claims meet the preconditions of
Rule 23(a) of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and
adequacy." Teamsters Local 445 Freight Div. Pension
Fund v. Bombardier Inc., 546 F.3d 196, 201-02 (2d
Cir.2008). Then the court must determine whether the class
satisfies one of the three categories listed in Rule 23(b).
Jennings v. Cont'l Serv. Grp., Inc., 314 F.R.D.
82, 83 (W.D.N.Y. 2016). See also Diaz v. Residential
Credit Sols., Inc., 297 F.R.D. 42, 46 (E.D.N.Y. 2014)
(citing, inter alia, Brown v. Kelly, 609 F.3d 467,
476 (2d Cir. 2010) and Teamsters Local 445, 546 F.3d
at 202). Moreover, "[t]he party seeking class
certification bears the burden of establishing by a
preponderance of the evidence that each of Rule 23's
requirements has been met." Myers v. Hertz
Corp., 624 F.3d 537, 547 (2d Cir. 2010).
certifying a class, "[t]he dispositive question is not
whether the plaintiff has stated a cause of action or will
prevail on the merits, but rather whether the requirements of
Rule 23 have been met." Lewis Tree Serv., Inc. v.
Lucent Techs. Inc., 211 F.R.D. 228, 231 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)
(citing Eisen v. Carlisle and Jacquelin, 417 U.S.
156, 178 (1974)). Class certification "is proper only if
'the trial court is satisfied, after a rigorous analysis,
that the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) have been
satisfied.'" Jennings, 314 F.R.D. at 83
(quoting Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S.
338, 131 (2011)). Therefore, unless adequate discovery is
conducted, a motion for class certification may be deemed
"premature." Id. at 84. See also 3081
Main St., LLC v. Bus. Owners Liab. Team LLC, No.
3:11-CV-1320 (SRU), 2012 WL 4755048, at *1 (D. Conn. Sept.
24, 2012) (Where the court decided to "credit
plaintiff's own representation that more discovery [was]
needed on factual issues related to class
certification," "[t]he interests of both parties,
as well as the interests of the court, [were] best served by
deferring a determination on class certification until that
process [would be] complete.").
timing, the Second Circuit has stated that the district court
has certain discretion to decide when to determine class
certification. Philip Morris Inc. v. Nat'l Asbestos
Workers Med. Fund, 214 F.3d 132, 135 (2d Cir. 2000)
(citing Chateau De Ville Prods., Inc. v. Tams-Witmark
Music Library, Inc., 586 F.2d 962, 966 (2d Cir.1978)).
"[T]here can be no doubt that it is proper for a
district court, prior to certification of a class, to allow
discovery and to conduct hearings to determine whether the
prerequisites of Rule 23 are satisfied." Philip
Morris, 214 F.3d at 135 (quoting Sirota v. Solitron
Devices, Inc., 673 F.2d 566, 571 (2d Cir.1982)).
"[I]n making a certification decision, a judge must look
somewhere between the pleading[s] and the fruits of
discovery. . . . [E]nough must be laid bare to let the judge
survey the factual scene on a kind of sketchy relief map,
leaving for later view the myriad of details that cover the
terrain." Philip Morris, 214 F.3d at 135
(quoting Sirota, 673 F.2d at 571-72). However,
"as soon as practicable" does not confer
"unfettered discretion." Id.
an early determination regarding class certification is
favored, district courts have found Rule 23(c)(1) to afford
flexibility when, for example, the courts have been presented
with both a dispositive motion and a motion for class
certification. Richards v. Direct Energy Servs.,
LLC, 246 F.Supp.3d 538, 560 (D. Conn. 2017); see
also Project Release v. Prevost, 722 F.2d 960, 964 (2d
Cir. 1983) ("[C]lass certification was sought by
appellants in the district court but was not ruled
upon."). A district court may thus reserve decision on a
class certification motion until the disposition of a motion
for summary judgment. See Encarnacion v. Astrue, 491
F.Supp.2d 453, 459 (S.D.N.Y. 2007), aff'd, 568
F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 2009). This "chronology may be
appropriate depending on the complexity of the legal or
factual issues raised by the motion to certify and the
prejudice that either party might face."
Richards, 246 F.Supp.3d at 560 (citing
Christensen v. Kiewit-Murdock Inv. Corp., 815 F.2d
206, 214 (2d Cir. 1987)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
See also Wright v. Schock, 742 F.2d 541, 544 (9th
Cir. 1984) (district court had discretion to decide summary
judgment motion before class certification motion so as
"to protect both the parties and the court from needless
and costly further litigation.").
case at bar, Plaintiff must, if so advised, confirm that she
seeks to pursue this action as a class action by filing a
motion to certify the class. To prepare such a motion, her
counsel must conduct in-depth discovery as to the
characteristics and category of a possible class under Rule
23(a)-(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. If practicable, such discovery may be
combined with discovery into the facts relevant to her
interests of justice, however, if, as the parties represent,
the case is indeed likely to settle, the parties may wish to
move jointly for a referral to a Magistrate Judge for the
purpose of a settlement conference. That way the parameters
of the case and possibility of settlement may be discussed.
If the case may be resolved in settlement, the parties may
avoid extensive discovery costs and protracted proceedings.
light of the foregoing, the Court ORDERS that on or before
August 1, 2018, Plaintiff must confirm her
intention to move for certification of a class in this action
and provide a proposed deadline by which that motion may be
filed, taking into account the necessary discovery which must
be conducted to support it. Otherwise, if she no longer
intends to litigate on behalf of a class, Plaintiff should
move to withdraw the language regarding a class action from
interim, the parties may wish to consider the possibility of
settlement and/or move for an early settlement ...