Judge Grants Summary Judgment For Defense in FDCPA Letter Case

A federal judge in Illinois has granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant that was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it included a column for Fees and Collection Costs in a letter even though neither was being added to the account.

A copy of the ruling in Wood v. Allied Interstate can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a letter from the defendant that included a table. The table included columns for the account number, balance, interest rate, fees, collection costs, and total amount owed, among others. The entries under fees and collection costs were $0.00. The plaintiff alleged the letter violated Sections 1692e(5), 1692e(8), 1692e(10), and Section 1692f, which prohibit the use of false or deceptive means when collecting a debt, and Section 1692g(a)(1) because the letter did not clearly state whether fees and costs were accruing.

In granting summary judgment in favor of the defense, Judge Gary Feinerman of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, ruled that while the table could be read to imply that the plaintiff owed nothing — for now — and that the defendant may charge fees and costs in the future when it had no plans to do so, that the defendant was “merely trying to clarify that it was not seeking to collect any interest, fees, or collection costs.”

Because the plaintiff failed to provide any external evidence that unsophisticated consumers do find the challenged statements to be misleading, the judge granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

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