Class Certification Affirmed In Homeowners’ Action Against Law Firm Alleging Violations Of FCCPA And FDUTPA

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In Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. v. Hewitt, 106 So. 3d 489 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), the District Court of Appeal of the Fourth District of Florida reviewed a trial court order certifying a class of homeowners in an action against the Law Offices of David J. Stern, and its managing partner.

The Plaintiffs sought class certification claiming that the foreclosure law firm violated state law by charging the group of homeowners for summonses served on unknown parties who may have claims on the property. The homeowners alleged that the firm’s attempt to collect payments for unknown defendants was in violation of the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”) and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice Act (“FDUTPA”). The law firm appealed the trial court’s class certification order contending that the class representative’s claim was atypical.

The Court affirmed the class certification order relying on Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. v. Banner, 50 So. 2d 1221 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010). The Court found the two cases indistinguishable in all relevant respects, and rejected the argument that the class representative’s claim was atypical. The Court noted in its opinion that its jurisdiction was limited to review of the proprietary of the class certification. Thus, the Court could not review the trial court’s denial of appellants’ motion for partial summary judgment on appellee’s claim for a violation of FDUTPA. The Court, however, stated that “any future determination on whether the FDUTPA claim is viable would not affect the trial court’s determination as to class certification of the FCCPA claim.”