Judge Grants Motion to Dismiss in FDCPA Overshadowing Case

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a motion to dismiss after a collection agency was sued by a plaintiff for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by sending a straightforward letter merely referencing payment options and leaving a voicemail during the 30-day validation period that overshadowed her right to dispute the debt, even though the voicemail did not demand immediate payment.

A copy of the ruling in Thompson v. Harris & Harris can be accessed by clicking here.

“H&H is always proud to represent the industry in impactful cases,” said Ari Derman, General Counsel of Harris & Harris. “Due to the benign nature of our letter and voicemail, we were left with no choice but to fight. We rely on our compliance team to incessantly review documentation and corporate procedures to ensure that all communication platforms align with our key company goals – to engage respectfully with consumers in a straightforward and clear manner. Our painstaking efforts were validated in the instant case.”

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant related to a charged-off debt. About a month later, the defendant called the plaintiff and left a voicemail. In neither the letter nor the voicemail did the defendant demand immediate payment from the plaintiff. However, the plaintiff alleged that by leaving a voicemail, the defendant was “attempting to demand immediate payment.” Labeling the claim as “insufficient,” the judge noted that “there is no due date at all on the letter.”

Judge Thomas Durkin wrote, “… the Court is unpersuaded that the payment plans in the letter and the detachable section, even coupled with the voicemail, are sufficiently emphasized or carry a sense of urgency that would confuse an unsophisticated consumer and lead her to believe payment was due immediately.”

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