Judge Grants Partial Summary Judgment For Defendant in FDCPA Case over Disclosure, Potential State Law Violation

A District Court judge in Nevada has partially granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant who was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by including disclosure notices on the reverse side of its collection letter. As well, the judge ruled that the plaintiff could not establish an FDCPA violation had occurred by merely showing a collector had violated a state law.

Interestingly enough, the defendant opted not to move for summary judgment on one of the three counts listed by the plaintiffs, which forced the judge to keep the suit alive pending that one particular claim.

A copy of the ruling in Christy v. DRS can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiffs received three collection letters and a phone call from the defendant regarding an unpaid healthcare debt. The plaintiffs filed suit, alleging the defendant violated Sections 1692g(a)(3), 1692e(11), and 1692e(14) of the FDCPA. The alleged violations of 1692g(a)(3) occurred because the disclosure notice required under the provision were included on the back of the collection letters, according to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs cited three cases in defense of their argument, but because DRS “prominently” directed the letter’s readers to the back of the letter for the required disclosures, the judge granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

The plaintiffs also contended that the letters violated the FDCPA because they did not include a disclosure related to a Nevada law that requires warnings when attempting to collect on debts owed to a hospital. Not including the state law language does not mean the letters violated the FDCPA, Judge Andrew Gordon ruled. Judge Gordon also denied the plaintiffs a leave to file a separate suit under the state law violations because it would be “futile.”

Section 1692e(11) of the FDCPA prohibits use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization Judge Gordon denied a summary judgment request from the plaintiffs because they “present no evidence” that listing the healthcare organization that incurred the debt on the collection letter was deceptive. The defendant, however, did not move for summary judgment on this claim, and did not mention it until its reply in support of its own motion, so Judge Gordon left that claim pending.

 

 

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