U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Constructive Notice — Single Advertisement
Hecht v. United Collection Bureau Inc.
Judges Walker, Straub and Pooler
Background: The plaintiff appealed from a judgment dismissing her suit as precluded by a prior judgment in a class action. The plaintiff did not disagree that her claim would normally be precluded under the doctrine of res judicata, but she argued that the application of res judicata denied her due process because she did not receive adequate notice of the prior action. Specifically, she argued that a single advertisement in the newspaper USA Today was insufficient notice.
Ruling: The Second Circuit reversed in part and remanded. The Second Circuit held that res judicata did not bar her claim because the single advertisement did not satisfy her due process right to notice. Specifically, the court concluded that such constructive notice is only appropriate if the class members could not be identified, but even if they could not be identified a single advertisement was insufficient.
Brian Wolfman of the Institute of Public Representation for the plaintiff-appellant; Barry Jacobs of Abrams, Gorelick, Friedman & Jacobsen PC for the defendant-appellee