A District Court judge in Indiana has granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings in favor of a defendant that was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it allegedly did not explicitly detail the relationship between itself and the current creditor.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Dennis v. Niagara Credit Solutions, Inc., and LVNV Funding, LLC, can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant.
The letter, which listed details about the debt at the top of the letter, included two payment options that were “authorized” by the agency’s “client” — a monthly payment plan and a settlement of half the amount owed.
Because the letter did not state the name or identity of the “client,” the plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692g(a)(2) of the FDCPA because it did not indicate the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. The letter did not explain whether the “client” was the original creditor or the current creditor listed at the top of the letter, the plaintiff argued.
But even an unsophisticated consumer would realize that the debt is owed to the current creditor and not the original creditor, ruled Judge Richard Young of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.
“Sure, things would have been crystal clear had the letter included a simple statement ‘that LVNV was Niagara’s client’ — which Dennis Jr. admits would have derailed his case,” Judge Young wrote. “But such precision is not necessary considering the proper standard is an unsophisticated consumer — not the least sophisticated one.”
The plaintiff tried to use the ruling in Janetos v. Fulton Friedman & Gullace, LLP, but this case is different, Judge Young said, because in Janetos, the current creditor was never identified.
“From this, it naturally follows that the term ‘client’ used in the two paragraphs addressing the payment of the balance refers to the ‘current creditor’ because the ‘current creditor’ is the one to whom debt is owed,” Judge Young wrote. “That is the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the letter, and any other reading would be a strained, idiosyncratic interpretation.”