Following the same path she has already blazed, a District Court judge in New Jersey has denied a motion to dismiss filed by a defendant that was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it did not explicitly state that a dispute must be filed in writing, even thought it used the statutory language from the FDCPA itself.
A copy of the ruling in Joseph v. Rickart Collection Systems, Inc., can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a collection letter that stated, in part:
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 after 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 of 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.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692e and 1692g of the FDCPA because it did not explicitly state that the dispute must be filed in writing.
In looking at almost the exact same case in which she ruled on last month, Judge Anne Thompson of the District Court for the District of New Jersey denied the motion to dismiss, stating that using the statutory language in this instance is “subject to conflicting interpretations and will fail to apprise the least sophisticated debtor of her rights.” Judge Thompson referenced a similar denial she issued in Vedernikov v. Mercantile Adjustment Bureau LLC.
There continue to be a growing number of cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where debt collectors are fighting against suits that allege using the statutory language from the FDCPA is not enough when informing individuals how to dispute a debt. One case has been appealed to the Third Circuit.