MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Nicola Magee and James Peterson have brought this class action against Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC ("PRA") for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et. seq. Plaintiffs have filed a motion to modify the class definitions of the classes that were certified on February 5, 2015. Defendant filed a response opposing Plaintiffs' Motion and filed a Motion to Decertify the Classes. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion is granted, and Defendant's Motion is denied.
PRA is a business that engages in the purchasing of defaulted debts originally owed to others and incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiffs allege that PRA violated the FDCPA by sending letters demanding payment of time-barred debt without disclosing that the debt was time-barred and threatening credit reporting after a time that a debt can no longer be reported. (Am Compl. ¶¶ 45, 63.) Plaintiffs seek actual and statutory damages pursuant to the FDCPA. On February 5, 2015, the following two classes were certified in this matter:
(Dkt. 186.) Plaintiffs request that the class definitions of the certified classes be modified to only include those who actually paid in response to the collection letters, those who have not received a subsequent letter from PRA informing them that the debt is time-barred or no longer can be reported on their credit report, and those who have filed a lawsuit. Defendant filed a response in opposition as well as a Motion to Decertify the Classes.
A district court has the authority to modify a class definition and retains the power to modify that definition at different stages in litigation. Schorsch v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 417 F.3d 748, 750 (7th Cir. 2005); In re Motorola Sec. Litig., 644 F.3d 511, 518 (7
The two certified classes contain upwards of 400,000 people. (Dkt. 218.) Parties previously argued whether the classes could be certified because the monetary relief to class members would be de minimis. Plaintiffs argued that notice to the class alone constitutes substantial relief, as class members would be notified that their debt is past the statute of limitations or credit reporting period, or both. After conducting discovery in this case, Plaintiffs discovered that PRA revised its collection letters to contain language notifying the recipient that the debt at issue is time-barred
In its opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification, Defendant argued that the classes as currently defined should not be certified because a potential for de minimis recovery by class members. Defendant renews this argument now as support for their motion to decertify the classes. Defendant further argues that Plaintiffs' Motion is evidence that Plaintiffs' counsel is inadequate and that Plaintiffs' interests are antagonistic to those of the class members that Plaintiffs are attempting to "abandon." However, Plaintiffs' proposed modification would appear to eliminate this concern. A modification to a more limited group would be consistent with Plaintiffs' obligation to protect the best interests of the class, making the class size more manageable and allowing counsel to help those class members that may have suffered harm to receive a proportional recovery. This is not evidence that Plaintiffs' counsel is inadequate. Defendant's argument against eliminating those class members that have notice that their debts are time-barred is not persuasive. These class members have received what could be the most substantial part of their relief if they remained in the class.
Defendant also argues that changing Plaintiffs' class definition would injure both Defendant and potential class members. Defendant contends that this modification would have a fundamental impact on the FDCPA claims of any class member that is removed from the class. Defendant also notes that Plaintiffs' claim stopped the statute of limitations period for three years. If Plaintiffs had filed an amended complaint rather than a motion to modify class definition, many claimants would now be time-barred. Thus, Defendant claims Plaintiffs' procedural decision to file a motion to modify class definition rather than amend their complaint will injure Defendant. Defendant fails to explain or otherwise support their assertion that narrowing the class would result in "serious impacts" on potential class members' rights to "maintain an FDCPA claim under the tolling principles applicable to putative class claims" resulting in an injury to PRA. While it is possible that the class could decrease if the statute of limitations period "clock" begins again, Defendant does not explain why this injury should form a basis for decertification of the classes.
Finally, Defendant contends that narrowing the class to members who made a payment after receipt of an allegedly deceptive letter requires an individualized determination as to the cause of any such payment, challenging whether the proposed modified class would satisfy the predominance requirement
For the reasons discussed above, Plaintiffs' Motion to Modify the Class Definition  is granted, and Defendant's Motion to Decertify Classes  is denied.