On January 23, 2017, the Federal Court in Portland, Oregon issued an Order certifying a class of over 18,000 consumers who allege that a debt collector, Liberty Acquisitions Servicing, illegally collected payments to which Liberty was not entitled.
In Villanueva v. Liberty Acquisitions Servicing, et al, the plaintiff alleges that he and members of the class incurred debts to U.S. Bank after over-drafting checking accounts. After U.S. Bank “discharged” those debts—effectively deciding that it no longer would pursue collection—Liberty purchased the debts and sued tens of thousands of debtors in an attempt to collect for its own account. The lawsuit alleges that Liberty sued not only for the principal amount owed but also for “contractual interest” of 21.9%. Evidence in the lawsuit establishes that the U.S. Bank contracts, under which Liberty attempted to collect the debts, did not provide for recovery of contractual interest at all and that Liberty had no right to pursue collection of those amounts. Liberty demanded, sued, and eventually collected those illegal interest payments from thousands of class members. In its January 23 Order, the Court ruled that the case can proceed as a class action suit and appointed Stoll Berne Shareholders Josh Ross and Keil Mueller, along with co-counsel Kelly D. Jones, as class counsel.