A U.S. District Court in Ohio has given preliminary approval to a class-action settlement for unlawful collection practices against law firm Kaufman & Florence, based in Lebanon, Ohio.

Law firm Minnillo & Jenkins Co., on behalf of Zachary Langendorfer, brought the case. The complaint alleges that Kaufman & Florence filed collection suits in the Lebanon Municipal Court on behalf of Lebanon Citizens National Bank and against consumers who lived in other counties. That action violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and a parallel state law requiring consumer collection actions to be brought in the county where the consumer resides or where they signed the contract sued on.

The defendants deny liability but have agreed to a settlement under in which each individual who was sued or had other legal action taken against them in the wrong county during the two years before the filing of the class action will receive $600.

Because the case was settled, the court did not determine the full extent of the defendants' liability, but did issue a preliminary ruling holding that an FDCPA violation occurs when a collector takes any legal action against a consumer (including filing motions for summary judgment, seeking to conduct a debtor examination or pursuing garnishment) in the wrong jurisdiction, and not just when the collector first files a collection lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted the preliminary approval.

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