McWilliams v. Advanced Recovery Systems, Inc., 2017 WL 3009064 (S.D. Miss. June 16, 2017)
UPDATE: The Court granted final approval to the settlement on June 16, 2017.
Notice of pendency of class action
A Federal Court authorized this Notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer, and you are not being sued.
This is the first notice authorized by the Court in this case.
IF YOUNG WELLS WILLIAMS, P.A. ATTEMPTED TO COLLECT A DEBT FROM YOU, ON BEHALF OF ADVANCED RECOVERY SYSTEMS, INC., BY SENDING YOU A WRITTEN COMMUNICATION, OR BY FILING A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU, BETWEEN FEBRUARY 4, 2014 AND FEBRUARY 4, 2015, A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT MAY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS.
- A consumer sued Young Wells Williams, P.A. (“Young Wells”) and Advanced Recovery Systems, Inc. (“ARS”), alleging that Young Wells’s initial debt collection letters and summonses served in connection with state court debt collection complaints, violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- The Court certified two classes of Mississippi consumers from whom Young Wells attempted to collect a debt, on behalf of ARS, between February 4, 2014 and February 4, 2015. The classes are defined in response to Question 11, below.
- The Court has not decided whether Young Wells or ARS did anything wrong. There is no money available now, nor is there any guarantee that there will be. However, your legal rights are affected, and you have a choice to make now:
|Your Legal Rights and Options In This Lawsuit|
|Do Nothing||Stay in this lawsuit. Await the outcome. Give up certain rights in exchange for the possibility of receiving certain benefits.
By doing nothing, you keep the possibility of getting money or benefits that may come from summary judgment, trial or settlement. But you give up any rights to sue Young Wells and ARS by way of a separate lawsuit over the same legal claims underlying this lawsuit.
|Ask to Be Excluded||Get out of this lawsuit. Get no benefits from it. Keep certain rights.
If you ask to be excluded from this lawsuit and money or benefits are later awarded, you will not share in those monies or benefits. But you keep any rights to sue the defendants by way of a separate lawsuit alleging the same legal claims underlying this lawsuit.
- Your options are explained in this Notice. To ask to be excluded, you must act before May 16, 2016.
- Lawyers must prove the claims against Young Wells and ARS. If money or benefits are obtained as a result, you will be notified about how to ask for a share.
|1. Why should I read this Notice?|
If Young Wells attempted to collect a debt from you, on behalf of ARS, by sending you a written communication, or by filing a lawsuit against you, between February 4, 2014 and February 4, 2015, you may be a member of one or both of the classes. This notice explains that the Court has allowed, or “certified,” a class action lawsuit that may affect you. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise before the Court holds a trial. The Honorable Judge Carlton W. Reeves of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as McWilliams v. Advanced Recovery Systems, Inc. and Young Wells Williams, P.A.., Case No. 3:15-cv-70-CWR-LRA.
|2. I received a letter from a law firm about this case. What was that about?|
At least two law firms—McHale Law, PLLC and Jordan & Falgout—have sent solicitations to class members in this case. Those solicitations were not authorized by the Court, and those lawyers have no involvement in this case. If you have received solicitations from any other law firm or lawyer, those solicitations were not authorized by the Court, and those lawyers also have no involvement in this case.
|3. What is this lawsuit about?|
This lawsuit is about whether certain of Young Wells’s debt collection practices violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Young Wells and ARS deny that they acted unlawfully. The Court has not issued a decision regarding whether Young Wells or ARS violated the FDCPA.
|4. What is a class action and who is involved?|
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. In this case, the Class Representative is Ms. Wendy McWilliams. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The people who sue—and all the Class Members like her—are called the “Plaintiffs.” The entities that Class Representative Wendy McWilliams sued—Young Wells and ARS—are called the “Defendants” in this case. One court resolves the issues for everyone in the classes—except for those people who choose to exclude themselves from the classes.
|5. Why is this lawsuit a class action?|
The Court decided that this lawsuit can be certified as a class action because it meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts. Specifically, the Court found that:
- The classes were so numerous that combining the claims of all class members in one case would be impracticable;
- There are legal questions and facts that are common to each of the members of the classes;
- Ms. McWilliams’s claims are typical of the claims of the members of the classes;
- Ms. McWilliams and the lawyers representing the classes will fairly and adequately represent the interests of all class members;
- The common legal questions and facts predominate over questions that affect only individuals; and
- This class action will be more efficient than having many individual lawsuits.
More information about why the Court is allowing this lawsuit to be a class action is in the Court’s Order on the Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification, which is available at www.gdrlawfirm.com.
|6. What does the lawsuit complain about?|
In the lawsuit, the Class Representative alleges that certain of Young Wells’s debt collection practices violate the FDCPA. Specifically, she claims that Young Wells’s initial debt collection letters do not contain proper disclosures, and that the summonses it issues with its debt collection lawsuits run afoul of the FDCPA. You can read the Class Action Complaint at www.gdrlawfirm.com.
|7. How does Young Wells and ARS answer the allegations?|
Young Wells and ARS deny that they did anything wrong. Young Wells and ARS say that their debt collection practices are proper and that the Class Representative’s claims lack merit. Young Wells and ARS also assert a number of defenses.
|8. Has the Court decided who is right?|
No. The Court has not decided whether the Class Representative or Young Wells is correct. By establishing the classes and issuing this Notice, the Court is not suggesting that the Plaintiff will win or lose this case. The Plaintiff must prove her claims, either at summary judgment or at a trial.
|9. What is the Class Representative asking for?|
The Class Representative is asking for Young Wells and ARS to pay statutory damages to each member of the two classes, and to change their debt collection practices so that they comply with the FDCPA. The Class Representative will also seek attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in connection with the prosecution of this action.
|10. Is there any money available now?|
No money or benefits are available now because the Court has not yet decided whether Young Wells or ARS did anything wrong, and the two sides have not settled the case. There is no guarantee that money or benefits ever will be obtained. If they are, and if you have not excluded yourself, you will be notified about how to ask for a share.
|11. Am I part of the Class?|
Young Wells’s records indicate that you may be a member of at least one of the two classes. You need to decide whether you are affected by this lawsuit. The Court certified the following two classes:
The Notice Class: All persons located in the State of Mississippi to whom, between February 4, 2014 and February 4, 2015, Young Wells Williams, P.A. sent an initial written communication in connection with an attempt to collect any purported consumer debt owed to Advanced Recovery Systems, Inc.
The Lawsuit Class: All persons located in the State of Mississippi to whom, between February 4, 2014 and February 4, 2015, Young Wells Williams, P.A. sent a summons, as part of a lawsuit filed against such person to collect a debt owed to Advanced Recovery Systems, Inc.
|12. What happens if I do nothing at all?|
You don’t have to do anything now if you want to keep the possibility of getting money or benefits from this lawsuit. By doing nothing, you remain in the classes. If you stay in and the Class Representative obtains money or benefits, you will be notified about how to apply for a share (or how to ask to be excluded from any settlement).
|13. Why would I ask to be excluded?|
If you already have filed your own lawsuit against Young Wells and ARS regarding the debt collection practices at issue in this case and want to continue with it, you need to ask to be excluded from the classes. You may also want to be excluded if you do not agree with the allegations raised by the Class Representative and do not wish to part of this lawsuit. If you exclude yourself from the classes—which also means to remove yourself from the classes, and is sometimes called “opting-out” of the classes—you will not get any money or benefits from this lawsuit even if the Class Representative obtains them as a result of this case or from any settlement (which may or may not be reached). However, you may then be able to sue or continue to sue Young Wells and ARS regarding their debt collection practices. If you exclude yourself, you will not be legally bound by the Court’s judgments in this class action.
If you start your own lawsuit against Young Wells and ARS regarding their debt collection practices after you exclude yourself, you may have to hire and pay your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you will have to prove your claims. If you do exclude yourself so you can start or continue your own lawsuit against Young Wells and ARS, you should talk to your own lawyer soon, because your claims may be subject to a statute of limitations.
|14. How do I ask the Court to exclude me from the Class?|
To ask to be excluded, you must send an “Exclusion Request” in the form of a letter sent by mail, stating that you want to be excluded from McWilliams v. Advanced Recovery Systems, Inc. and Young Wells Williams, P.A.., Case No. 3:15-cv-70-CWR-LRA. You should keep a copy of this exclusion letter for your records. Be sure to include your name, address, and phone number, and sign the letter. You must mail your Exclusion Request postmarked by May 16, 2016, to: Michael L. Greenwald, Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC, 5550 Glades Road, Suite 500, Boca Raton, FL 33431.
|15. Do I have a lawyer in this case?|
The Court appointed the law firm of Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC (“GDR”), of Boca Raton, Florida, to represent you and all class members. The firm is called “Class Counsel.” GDR is experienced in handling similar class action cases. More information about GDR, its practice, and its lawyers’ experience is available at www.gdrlawfirm.com. You do not have to pay GDR for representing you. GDR will seek an award of attorneys’ fees if the Class Representative is successful in this lawsuit.