by Brian Wolfman
In this ruling issued today in Hecht v. United Collection Bureau, No. 11-1327 (2d Cir. Aug. 17, 2012), the Second Circuit allowed a collateral attack on a class action judgment. Chana Hecht had sued United Collection Bureau under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The district court threw out the suit on res judicata grounds, holding that an earlier class-action settlement concerning the same claims barred the suit. The Second Circuit reversed, holding that because the class-action notice plan -- no personal notice and just one ad in USA Today -- did not provide constitutionally adequate notice to the class members, Ms. Hecht's claims are not barred by the class-action judgment. More on this decision later. (I was one of the lawyers for Ms. Hecht, along with Lawrence Katz, a consumer-rights attorney in Cedarhurst, New York.)
UPDATE: Read this article about the ruling by Alison Frankel.