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Blair v. Equifax Check Services, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Equifax Check Services, Inc. appealed the judgment of the district court after being sued by Beverly Blair for violation of the Fair Debt Collections Act. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), a court of appeals may hear an appeal from a district court granting or denying class action certification if an application to appeal is made within ten days of the judgment?

    Facts.

    Equifax Check Services, Inc. (Equifax) had a practice of refusing to accept future checks of customers who had formerly submitted bounced checks and have not paid their debts. Beverly Blair (Blair) and LetressaWilbon filed suit against Equifax under the Fair Debt Collections Act and represented consumers who sought statutory penalties, called the Blair class. The Crawford class represented a class that incorporated all the consumers, including the Blair class. The Crawford class reached a settlement agreement with Equifax that forbade any class action suits and denied the class the opportunity to opt out of Equifax’s debt collection practices. Equifax sought to decertify the Blair class after the settlement agreement with the Crawford class. The district judge denied Equifax’s motion. 

    Issue.

    Whether a court of appeals may hear an appeal from a district court granting or denying class action certification if an application to appeal is made within ten days of the judgment?

    Held.

    Yes. The settlement between Equifax and the Crawford class was not final, and therefore did not prevent the Blair class from pursuing class action. The district court was therefore not required to immediately decertify the Blair class. Res judicata would only require the decertification of the Blair class if the Crawford class reached a final judgment. 

    Discussion.

    Under res judicata, if there are two parallel cases with the same subject matter, one of the cases will be dismissed only if the other case has reached a final determination.

     


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