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Anger v. Accretive Health, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan

October 11, 2017

Joseph Anger, et al., Plaintiffs, on behalf of all others similarly situated,
v.
Accretive Health, Inc. d/b/a Medical Financial Solutions, Defendant.

          Mona K. Majzoub Magistrate Judge.

          FINAL ORDER AND JUDGMENT

          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and Plan of Allocation of Settlement Proceeds (“Final Approval Motion”) of plaintiffs Joseph Anger, Delione Galbraith, Johnnie Mae Jones, Rochelle Jones, Terri Meyerhoff, John Bernard Weisend, Jr., and John Weisend III (“Plaintiffs”).

         On July 22, 2014, Plaintiff Joseph Anger filed a class action complaint (hereinafter referred to as the “Lawsuit”) against Accretive Health Inc., which has since changed its name to R1 RCM, Inc. (“R1”), in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Case No. 4:13-CV-10017-TGB-RSW, asserting class claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (hereinafter referred to as the “FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. and the Michigan Occupational Code (the “MOC”), MCL § 339.916(2). R1 has denied any and all liability alleged in the Lawsuit.

         On February 23, 2017, after extensive arms-length negotiations, Plaintiffs and Defendant (hereinafter jointly referred to as the “Parties”) entered into a Class Action Settlement Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “Settlement Agreement”), which is subject to review under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23.

         On May 10, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed the Settlement Agreement, along with Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement Agreement, Attorneys Fees and Costs, Class Notice, and Other Relief. On May 19, 2017, Defendant submitted a Response to Plaintiffs' Motion, concurring in the relief sought.

         In compliance with the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(D), 1453, and 1711-1715, Defendant caused to be served written notice of the proposed class settlement on the United States Attorney General and the Attorney General of Michigan.

         On June 13, 2017, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Unopposed Preliminary Approval Motion, Defendant's Response, and the record, the Court entered an Order of Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement (hereinafter referred to as the “Preliminary Approval Order”). Pursuant to the Preliminary Approval Order, the Court, among other things, (i) preliminarily certified a class of plaintiffs (hereinafter referred to as the “Class Members”) with respect to the claims asserted in the Lawsuit; (ii) preliminarily approved the proposed settlement; (iii) appointed plaintiffs Joseph Anger, Delione Galbraith, Johnnie Mae Jones, Rochelle Jones, Terri Meyerhoff, John Bernard Weisend, Jr., and John Weisend III as Class Representatives; (iv) appointed Dave Honigman, Gerard V. Mantese, Krista M. Hosmer, and Jordan B. Segal of Mantese Honigman, P.C. and James C. Warr of James C. Warr & Associates, P.L.C., as Class Counsel; (v) approved the Notice Plan as set forth in the Settlement Agreement; (vi) approved the opt out and exclusion terms as set forth in the Settlement Agreement; and (vi) set the date and time of the Final Approval Hearing.

         On September 20, 2017 the Plaintiff filed his Unopposed Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement (the “Final Approval Motion”), and Defendant filed its response concurring in the relief sought.

         On October 4, 2017, a Final Approval Hearing was held pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 to determine whether the Lawsuit satisfies the applicable prerequisites for class action treatment and whether the proposed settlement is fundamentally fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class Members and should be approved by the Court.

         The Parties now request final certification of the settlement class under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3) and final approval of the proposed class action settlement.

         he Court has read and considered the Settlement Agreement, Motion for Final Approval, Defendant's Response thereto, and the record. All capitalized terms used herein have the meanings defined herein and/or in the Agreement.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

         1. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Lawsuit and over all settling parties hereto.

         2. The terms of the Settlement Agreement are approved as fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Settlement Agreement is in the best interests of the Class Members, especially in light of the benefits to the Class Members; the complexity, expense, and probable duration of further litigation; the risk and delay inherent in possible appeals; and, the limited amount of any potential total recovery for the class under the FDCPA. See UAW v. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.3d 615, 631 (6th Cir. 2007) (setting forth factors that govern the inquiry of whether a class action settlement is fair, reasonable, and and adequate). Indeed, the settlement provides monetary relief to class members in excess of more than double the limits imposed by the FDCPA. In light of R1's public market valuation, the FDCPA limits statutory damages to a maximum of $500, 000.00. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(A)(2)(B). By paying settlement funds to the Cy Pres Recipient, RIP Medical Debt, the Settlement Agreement will benefit Michigan consumers more than they would be able to recover under the federal statutory maximum should Plaintiffs succeed at trial and on appeal and more than if the settlement funds are simply distributed directly to class members.

         3. The Court finds that the prerequisites for certification of a settlement class under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b)(3) - including numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy, predominance, and superiority - have been satisfied. Namely:

(a) The Class Members (621, 408) are so numerous that joinder of all of them in the Lawsuit is impracticable;
(b) The claims of the Named Plaintiffs are typical of the claims of the Class Members. In particular, class members share the same claims that the form letters the Defendant sent them were ...

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