Lombardo v. Windham Professionals Inc.
A court can permit individuals in a class-action suit to file objections and to show cause, if the individuals conclude that a proposed settlement is not fair, reasonable and adequate. The plaintiff, Patrick Lombardo, filed a putative class action, on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals, against the defendant, Windham Professionals, alleging that the defendant attempted to collect costs of more than 15 percent of the amount at issue, in connection with a consumer debt. The defendant denied that it violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Lombardo requested class certification of his complaint and indicated that the parties agreed to settle. The defendant allegedly agreed to pay $12,500 ($500 to each of the 25 individual plaintiffs), plus $1,500 to the lead plaintiff and $15,000 to class counsel. The District Court certified a class of individuals who reside in Connecticut and who received collection letters in which Windham Professionals attempted to collect costs of more than 15 percent. The court appointed Daniel S. Blinn, of the Consumer Law Group, and Joshua Cohen as class counsel. Class counsel may contact any individual who decides to opt out, or that individual's attorney, to discuss that individual's rationale. If an individual elects to opt out, that individual can rescind the decision, if the individual contacts class counsel and class counsel informs defense counsel, Attorney Jonathan Elliot. If four or more individuals opt out, the settlement agreement provides that the defendant possesses the option to declare that the proposed settlement agreement is void. Any member of the class who has not requested to opt out can file a written objection and can appear and show cause, why the proposed settlement is not fair, reasonable and adequate. The court scheduled a hearing on the proposed class settlement.