A federal judge in Ohio has denied requests for summary judgment from both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Weltman Weinberg & Reis and said that the case must go to trial next month.
The CFPB filed a lawsuit against Weltman last April for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by sending collection letters that made it appear as though they came from a lawyer and calling consumers and falsely misrepresenting that a lawyer was involved. Weltman had vowed to defend the lawsuit, saying it was filed after the firm refused to be “strong-armed” into signing a consent order with the regulator.
A copy of the ruling in CFPB v. Weltman Weinberg & Reis can be accessed here.
The CFPB was seeking summary judgment on three of the six counts it alleged in its lawsuit:
- That the firm violated the FDCPA by misrepresenting letters were from attorneys and that attorneys were meaningfully involved in cases
- That the firm’s conduct in the first count also constituted a violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act
- That the firm violated the CFPA’s Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP) provisions
Weltman was seeking summary judgment because it argued that its communications truthfully identified itself as a law firm, and that “the firm, not an individual lawyer” conducted “some type of evaluation prior to initiating the communication” with individuals.
“…whether the communications are at issue are misleading is a question of fact that must be determined bu a jury,” ruled Judge Donald C. Nugent. The trial is set to begin May 1.