Blair v. Equifax Check Services, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
181 F.3d 832 (7th Cir. 1999)
Equifax Check Services, Inc. (Equifax) (defendant), a check-verification service, had a practice of reserving the right to refuse to verify future checks of customers who had written dishonored checks, unless the dishonored check and fees associated with that check had been paid. Equifax would inform customers of this practice through a letter. Beverly Blair (plaintiff) and Letressa Wilbon filed suit against Equifax, alleging that this practice violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. They represented a class of shoppers who had attempted to collect a check at specific retailers and who had received the debt collection letter from Equifax (the Blair class). The class sought only statutory penalties. Another class action against Equifax (the Crawford class) was certified the same day as the Blair class. The Crawford class was much larger than the Blair class, and due to its subject matter, actually encompassed all the Blair plaintiffs. The Crawford class reached a settlement agreement with Equifax, under which the individual members of the class would not receive notice or the opportunity to opt out. The settlement also forbade the prosecution of any of the claims as a class action. Based upon this settlement, Equifax requested that the Blair class be decertified. The trial judge denied Equifax’s motion, and Equifax appealed pursuant to Rule 23(f), which had been promulgated by the United States Supreme Court the previous year.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Easterbrook, J.)