Judge Partially Dismisses Claims in Class-Action Suit, But Denies Dismissal of FDCPA Claim

A collection agency has had part of a class-action lawsuit filed against it dismissed, but a federal judge did not completely dismiss all of the charges filed against the agency after it was accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by attempting to collect unenforceable penalties.

A copy of the ruling in Burdette-Miller v. Williams & Fudge, Inc., can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff incurred a debt with Lewis University, which placed the account with the defendant. The plaintiff refused to pay the debt, and the defendant subsequently filed a lawsuit against her to collect on the debt. Attached to the complaint was a statement that outlined the amount of tuition that was unpaid as well as a 33% collection fee.

Two years after this litigation began, the university disclosed that the contract attached to the collection complaint was not the agreement she had signed. The actual tuition agreement had included a substantially lower collection fee than the 33% being charged by the defendant.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit, alleging violations of the FDCPA, Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and breach of contract.

In the ruling released Tuesday, Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, dismissed the breach of contract claim, but allowed the FDCPA and ICFA claims to proceed.

The defendant had attempted to argue that the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the FDCPA’s one-year statute of limitations, but Judge Castillo noted that, under the discovery rule, “the beginning of the statute of limitations period for filing a suit is changed from ‘the date when the plaintiff is wronged to the date when he discovers he has been injured.’ “

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