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Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Alleging Overshadowing in Collection Letter

A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it included two different addresses in a collection letter and because the validation notice portion of the letter was in the same font size and color as the rest of the notice.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Park v. Forster & Garbus, LLP can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges the letter violated Sections 1692g(b), 1692e, and 1692e(10) the FDCPA. The letter instructed the plaintiff to “mail all correspondence and payments to the address listed below” but there were two addresses listed. One listed the office location for the defendant and below that, in the detachable coupon portion of the letter, instructed the coupon and payment to be mailed to a different address other than the office location.

But the location and context of the addresses in this case “make clear that the [least sophisticated consumer (LSC)] should mail his debt disputes to the P.O. Box address. The LSC is instructed to mail both his correspondence and his payments to the address ‘listed below.’ Below that, the P.O. Box address is identified as the destination for payments and is reiterated again on the coupon, highlighted with an arrow. The presence of another address, clearly labeled as an office location, would not confuse the LSC,” wrote Judge Allyne Ross of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Neither did the judge agree with the plaintiff that including the validation notice in the same font size and color as the rest of the envelope overshadowed the validation notice.

Finally, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant referencing that “At this time, no determination has been made as to whether a lawsuit will be commenced” in the letter overshadowed the validation notice as well. But rather than intimidating a least sophisticated consumer into paying the debt, “the sentence at issue clarifies that a lawsuit is not imminent,” wrote Judge Ross. “Consequently, I find that the plaintiff failed to state a claim and dismiss the third cause of action.”

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