A District Court judge in the Eastern District of New York has reversed himself and has denied a dismissal of a lawsuit filed against a collection agency for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because a validation notice was not specific about it being the initial communication between the collector and the individual.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Homa v. GC Services Limited Partnership can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging a collection letter she received violated the FDCPA because the letter did not indicate it was the initial communication, thus starting the clock on a 30-day window to dispute the debt. Because the suit filed by the plaintiff was almost exact to a separate suit filed against the same defendant, the plaintiff sought to have her case designated as related to the other suit. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss both suits, which was granted. But then the plaintiff in this suit noticed that the letters in question were not identical and filed a motion for reconsideration, which was granted. The judge then subsequently denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.
The letter sent to the plaintiff included the following passage: “[u]nless you, within thirty (30) days after your receipt of GC Services’ Initial Written Notice to you concerning this debt, dispute the validity of the debt or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by GC Services.”
Because the defendant failed to specify that the letter in question was the initial written notice referenced in the passage, a least sophisticated consumer could become confused and “wonder if another prior notice had been forgotten or misplaced by him or her, lost in the mail, or if a further notice would be the ‘initial written notice’ and would be identified as such,” wrote Judge Denis Hurley of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York.