Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Alleged Amount Discrepancy

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by allegedly misrepresenting that it was not seeking to collect court costs in a separate collection lawsuit, ruling that even an unsophisticated consumer would know the difference between court costs and trying to collect additional amounts after the debt has been charged off.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Lin v. Portfolio Recovery Associates and Blitt and Gaines can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff defaulted on a credit card debt and was sued for it by the defendant. In the complaint, the defendant said it sought to recover $1,492.81 plus court costs. But in a form affidavit that accompanied the complaint, under the heading, “ADDITIONAL ACCOUNT INFORMATION AFTER CHARGE-OFF”, the defendant checked the box for “no” indicating it was not seeking additional amounts after the charge-off date.

The plaintiff filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging the discrepancy between seeking to collect court costs but indicating it was not going to collect any additional amounts violated Sections 1692e2(a), 1692e(5), 1692e(10), and 1692f of the FDCPA. His argument was “not that PRA sought court costs, but that they explicitly denied they were seeking court costs in the affidavit while explicitly requesting them in the State Complaint.” The plaintiff argued that the additional court costs should have been listed in the affidavit.

But Judge Mary Rowland of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, said that even an unsophisticated consumer would know the difference between court costs and additional collection amounts.

“Here the State Court Complaint was clear about the amount of debt Lin allegedly owed and clear that Defendants were invoking their right to seek court costs (and Lin does not dispute their right to do so),” Judge Rowland wrote. “These are understandable concepts to an unsophisticated consumer. The form affidavit identifying the amount due limited to the account and not identifying again that court costs were a possibility did not detract from the ability of an unsophisticated consumer to understand what was at stake.”

The plaintiff’s issue, according to Judge Rowland, was with the Illinois Supreme Court, which developed the affidavit, and not with the defendant.

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