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Judge Declines to Dismiss Suit After Attorney Accused of Using Registered Name in Collection Letter

A District Court judge in Georgia has denied a request for judgment on the pleadings and refused to dismiss a case filed against a collection law firm for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using its actual, registered name in a collection letter.

A copy of the ruling in Jones v. Jason A. Craig and Associates can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, in which the letterhead read: “JASON A. CRAIG & ASSOCIATES, ATTORNEYS AT LAW” and the letter was signed by, “JASON A. CRAIG & ASSOCIATES, ATTORNEYS AT LAW.” The issue at hand is that the only lawyer associated with the defendant is Jason A. Craig. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692e of the FDCPA by misleading him into believing that the defendant was a firm comprised of many attorneys.

At the time the letter was written, the defendant had registered the name, Jason A. Craig & Associates, with the Georgia Secretary of State, but the plaintiff still accused the defendant of being misleading.

The defendant tried to counter that even if it was misleading, the name did not rise to the level of being material enough to be actionable under the FDCPA. While there is no materiality requirement in the Eleventh Circuit for claims brought under the FDCPA, the judge noted, the name used by the defendant could “intimidate” a least sophisticated consumer into paying a debt, and ruled that he could not conclude that the name was not material.

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