Second Circuit rules in favor of IPR position in important class action

In this ruling issued on August 17, 2012, in Hecht v. United Collection Bureau, No. 11-1327 (2d Cir. Aug. 17, 2012), the Second Circuit allowed a collateral attack on a class-action judgment. Chana Hecht had sued United Collection Bureau under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The district court threw out the suit on res judicata grounds, holding that an earlier class-action settlement concerning the same claims barred the suit. The Second Circuit reversed, holding that because the class-action notice plan — no personal notice and just one ad in USA Today — did not provide constitutionally adequate notice to the class members, Ms. Hecht’s claims are not barred by the class-action judgment.

The Hecht decision is a victory for access to the courts and is only the ninth successful collateral attack on a class judgment in the history of the federal courts. IPR student-lawyers Anna Driggers and Ray Tolentino worked on a Rule 28(j) letter-brief and oral argument preparation, while IPR research assistants Bradley Girard and Grant Johnson on two post-argument Rule 28(j) letter-briefs.

To read the briefs in the case, go here, here, here. Legal reporter Alison Frankel has penned this piece about the decision.

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