9th Circuit: Plaintiff Bears Burden of Proof Regarding Defendant’s Net Worth for Class Action Damages

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) places a cap on class action damages. Specifically, class action damages cannot exceed the lesser of 1% of the defendant’s net worth or $500,000. On August 20, 2018, the Ninth Circuit reviewed a yet unaddressed question: which side bears the burden of proof to show a defendant’s net worth? According to Tourgeman v. Nelson & Kennard et al., Case No. 16-56190 (9th Cir. Aug. 20, 2018), this burden lies with the plaintiff.

Factual and Procedural Background

Appellant David Tourgeman incurred a debt with Dell Financial Services, who later sold the debt to Collins Financial Services. Collins then retained Nelson & Kennard to file a collection suit against appellant. Nelson & Kennard attempted to reach appellant by mail, but never received a response to their letter. The firm then filed a complaint with the court to collect on the account.

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