A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that a law firm bringing a foreclosure action must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The ruling was part of a denial of a motion to dismiss order filed by the defendants. The law firm had filed a foreclosure complaint before providing the plaintiffs with a verification of the debt.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Tina Collins & Glendale Walker v. Phelan Hallinan Diamond & Jones, can be accessed here.
The plaintiffs allege they sent a request to verify the debt five days after receiving a collection letter from the law firm, which notified the plaintiffs of the impending foreclosure action. Four days after the plaintiffs sent the verification request, the foreclosure complaint was filed. More than three weeks after filing the foreclosure complaint, the law firm responded to the verification request.
The plaintiffs put forth a number of allegations of violations of the FDCPA in their complaint, and the one about not responding to the verification request struck a chord. Under the FDCPA, when a debt is disputed, all collection activity must cease until the verification is provided to the individual. But instead of ceasing activity, the law firm moved forward with the foreclosure complaint.
The court ruled that the law firm erred by moving forward with the foreclosure complaint and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The allegation that Phelan filed the foreclosure complaint before verifying the debt in response to the dispute notice states a cause of action for a violation of section 1692g(b), Judge Timothy J. Savage of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania wrote in his ruling.