United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT [DOC. 21)
GEORGE CARAM STEEH, District Judge.
This case arises from plaintiff Andre Desrosiers' failure to pay his Chase Heritage credit card and defendant Asset Acceptance's attempt to collect the account. Plaintiff filed his initial complaint under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") on September 24, 2014. The complaint alleges defendant violated the FDCPA by attempting to collect a time-barred debt without disclosing the time-barred nature of the account (and that defendant therefore could not pursue litigation to collect the account). The one count in the complaint is referred to as the statute of limitations count. To date there has been written discovery, plaintiff's deposition and the deposition of an Asset witness. Plaintiff has now filed a motion to amend his proposed class action complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) seeking leave to limit the class to only persons in Michigan who received the 95% Settlement Offer letter regarding loans purchased by Asset from Chase Bank. Additionally, plaintiff seeks to "clarify" that he is also claiming a FDCPA violation arising from defendant's attempt to collect interest added after the debt was charged off by Chase Bank. Plaintiff acknowledges that the violation of law asserted with regard to the interest issue is related to that alleged in another class action lawsuit, McDonald v. Asset Acceptance, LLC, 296 F.R.D. 513 (E.D. Mich. 2013). This court heard oral argument on plaintiff's motion to amend, and for the reasons set forth herein grants the motion in part and denies the motion in part.
The standard for granting leave to amend is set forth at Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), which provides that "leave shall be freely granted when justice so requires." The Supreme Court has explained that courts may deny leave to amend where there is "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and/or] futility of amendment." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
I. Amendment to Statute of Limitations Class Definition
Plaintiff seeks to narrow the putative class definition regarding the 95% Settlement Offer form letter to include only those persons in Michigan, as opposed to the originally pled nationwide class. Defendant does not have an objection to this specific amendment to the complaint. The court GRANTS plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint to limit the statute of limitations class to include all individuals with a Michigan address who were sent a 95% Settlement Offer letter, as stated in paragraph 41 of the proposed amended complaint.
II. Post Charge-Off Interest That Accrued While Chase Bank Held Debt
In paragraph 38 of the proposed amended complaint, plaintiff describes his new improper interest claim:
Asset Acceptance was attempting to collect an amount within the "Current Balance" listed in Exhibit A, that was comprised of an amount of interest to which it was not entitled to collect as the account had been charged off and the original creditor stopped sending Plaintiff monthly billing statements. The violation of law here is related to that alleged in McDonald v. Asset Acceptance, LLC ... which granted summary judgment in the plaintiffs' favor.
(Proposed Amended Complaint, ¶ 38). In describing the "Improper Interest Class" makeup, the proposed amended complaint states that it consists of:
All individuals with a Michigan address, where Asset Acceptance purchased their credit card debt from Chase Bank USA, N.A., where Asset Acceptance had added an amount of interest that was not added by the original creditor of the debt prior to purchase by Asset Acceptance, and sought to collect that added interest at any time from September 24, 2013 to October 14, 2014.
(Proposed Amended Complaint, ¶ 42). Finally, in paragraph 47, plaintiff describes the predominant common question to the Improper Interest Class as being "whether Asset Acceptance violated the FDCPA when it attempt [sic] to collect an improper amount of interest on a Chase credit card that was charged off." (Proposed Amended Complaint, ¶ 47).
This claim, based on interest added by Asset which accrued during a period of time when the original creditor Chase owned the account but did not charge interest and in fact charged off the debt, is not only the subject of the McDonald class action lawsuit, but apparently is not a claim that plaintiff is making on his own behalf. At oral argument, plaintiff clarified that he was not complaining that Asset had committed this particular violation of the FDCPA as to him. Indeed, plaintiff admitted that Asset did not attempt to add interest to his account that accrued while Chase owned his debt. Rather, plaintiff explained that he was lumping that ...