In what seems to be an unusual situation, a District Court judge has ruled on competing motions for attorney’s fees and costs from both sides in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case in which a jury sought to award the plaintiff the maximum statutory damages under the FDCPA but the judge reduced the award by 75%.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Gonzalez v. Allied Collection Services Inc. can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff was awarded summary judgment on her FDCPA claim, and a jury trial was held to determine whether she was entitled to actual damages for emotional distress or just the statutory damages under the FDCPA. The jury determine she was entitled to statutory damages and advised an award of $1,000, but the judge reduced the award to $250.
Both sides claimed victory — the plaintiff because an award was made and the defendant because the award was substantially reduced — and filed motions to have their attorney’s fees covered. Judge Miranda Du of the District Court for the District of Nevada denied the defendant’s motion, ruling that it was not a prevailing party, and, even if it was, Section 1692k(a)(3) of the FDCPA only allows a defendant to recover its attorney’s fees and costs if the plaintiff acts in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, which was definitely not the case here.
Ultimately, Judge Du awarded $105,820 in attorney’s fees to the plaintiff, which was slightly less than what the plaintiff had been seeking.