Phillips v. Asset Acceptance, LLC, No. 13-2251 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff was sued by Asset Acceptance, a debt collector, for a debt arising from her purchase of natural gas for household use. She sued, claiming that Asset Acceptance sued after the statute of limitations on the creditor’s claim had run, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692. Plaintiff moved to certify a class of debtors sued, after the limitations period, by Asset Acceptance for debts from sale of natural gas to consumers. The district judge waited 25 months and denied the motion. The class would have 793 members, of whom 343 reside in Illinois; 290 were sued four to five years after the claims accrued and 45 were sued more than five years after accrual. The judge shrank the class to 45, then to 23, ruling that suing to collect a debt but failing to serve the defendant did not violate the Act even if the suit was untimely, and concluded that 23 was too small a number to justify a class action. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding that all 343 Illinois residents were proper class members because the applicable statute of limitations is four years. Certification need not be limited to Illinois residents or to claims under the federal Act.