Judge Dismisses FDCPA Case over Notation on Envelope, Placement of Disclosure in Letter

A District Court judge in Michigan has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by including a statement on the envelope of a collection letter.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Galea v. Midland Credit Management can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. The outside of the envelope — which included a letter offering a number of payment and settlement options, some of which included a discount on the amount owed — was marked “Time Sensitive.” As well, in the letter itself, a notation that said “We are not obligated to renew any offers provided.” violated the FDCPA because it was placed “at least two inches” below the signature on the letter, and was thus a false representation of the amount of the subject debt and an unfair or unconscionable means of attempting to collect on a debt.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated the FDCPA and sought to include a class of other potential plaintiffs.

But Judge Laurie Michelson of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, said that an offer to “entice” an individual to open a collection envelope does not amount of a violation of the FDCPA.

“…Galea does not identify — and the Court cannot conceive of — any harm that comes from the allegedly wrongful formatting of the envelope and letter,” Judge Michelson wrote. “Galea does not allege that she did not owe the subject debt. Nor does she allege that she took any action as a result of the letter. Her only ‘injury’ appears to have been being enticed into opening an envelope earlier than she otherwise would have and having her eye drawn to orange and green boxes.”

Because the plaintiff had not shown she suffered a harm “that Congress intended the FDCPA to prevent” the case was dismissed.

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