Another Ruling From EDPA That Statutory Dispute Notice is Confusing

In yet another case out of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a judge has denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using the statutory dispute notice in a validation letter that was sent to an individual.

A copy of the ruling in Grady v. Portfolio Recovery Associates can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant which included the following passage:

Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office in writing within 30 days from receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgment or verification. If you request this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice, this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor if different from the current creditor.

In looking at other rulings that have come out of the same court, notably Durnell v. Stoneleigh Recovery Associates, LLC, and Henry v. Radius Global Solutions, LLC as well as Cadillo v. Stoneleigh Recovery Associates, LLC from another district, Judge Joel Slomsky noted that each of those cases used the exact same language — extracted word-for-word from the FDCPA — and decided that the validation notice was “flawed” because it “does not explicitly inform Plaintiff that she must raise all disputes regarding her debt with PRA in writing.”

“The problem with the first sentence of Defendant’s Validation Notice is that, despite mirroring the statue, it leaves open the possibility that a consumer can notify PRA of a dispute verbally, a method expressly prohibited by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,” wrote Judge Slomsky.

Noting that other judges have ruled in favor of defendants using the statutory language, Judge Slomsky said that if judges are confused over whether the language complies with the FDCPA, a least sophisticated consumer would likely be just as confused.

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