The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a defendant did not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when it sent a letter to an individual in an attempt to collect a time-barred debt, but did not mention the debt was time-barred or that a partial payment could revive the statute of limitations.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Woodward v. Collection Consultants of California can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, which included an offer to “resolve” her past-due accounts. But the letter did not mention that the debt was time-barred and that even a partial payment could restart the statute of limitations on the underlying debt. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692b, 1692e, and 1692f of the FDCPA as well as the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. A judge granted the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, which the plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
While the appeal was pending, the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling in Stimpson v. Midland Credit Management, in which it affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the defendant did not violate the FDCPA by making improper disclosures related to the collection of a time-barred debt.
In this case, the letter sent by the defendant was “not misleading or deceptive in any way” and “complies with all legal requirements,” the Ninth Circuit ruled. The Ninth Circuit also noted that there is nothing in the FDCPA that requires collectors to mention that a partial payment may revive the statute of limitations, so not including the disclosure in a letter is not a violation. The Ninth Circuit also noted that in California, a partial payment does not revive the statute, so there was definitely no reason to mention it in the letter.