In FDCPA case, the district court held that the Named Plaintiff was an inadequate class representative because he sought only statutory damages, while other members of the class might have suffered actual damages.
The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal reversed:
“As an initial matter, the district court’s stated reason for finding Dickens inadequate — that he sought only statutory damages — created no substantial conflict of interest…. Here, the district court made a determination … that the putative class members were unlikely to have suffered actual damages, explaining that the court had ‘grave doubts’ that anyone was injured by GC Services’ failure to meet the ‘in writing’ requirement….
“Cooper rested on the court’s observation that ‘to many of the class members (and especially to those who no longer work for the defendants), the monetary damages requested might be of far greater significance than injunctive relief, stated at a high order of abstraction, that simply directs the defendants not to discriminate.’
“Here, by contrast, the district court concluded that absent class members likely suffered only statutory and no actual damages, yet it used the remote possibility that some class members may have suffered actual damages as a reason to deem Dickens inadequate nonetheless. In essence, the district court concluded that where the proposed class representative fails to seek every remedy that possibly — as opposed to probably — would be sought by absent class members, the representative is inadequate. That proposition contradicts our admonition that minor conflicts alone are insufficient to deem a representative inadequate. Indeed, any conflict between Dickens and class members who have suffered actual damages is especially minimal given that in the rare circumstance in which a class member suffered actual damages, the class member could simply opt out of the class and pursue litigation on his own.”
Dickens v. GC Services, No.16-17168, 2017 WL 3616345 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2017).