A District Court judge in New Mexico has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denied a plaintiff’s motion to certify a class in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case because a number of payment options were rounded to the nearest dollar and were different than the total amount owed.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Zuniga v. TrueAccord can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received an email from the defendant with a link to several payment options. The options were:
- pay the balance of $1,585 in full
- make three payments of $529 each
- make six payments of $265 each
- make nine payments of $177 each
When multiplying the monthly payment amount by the number of payments, the plaintiff noticed that the total amounts paid were all different. This was because the defendant’s “computer system divided the amount owed by three months, six months, and nine months, rounding each installment payment up to the nearest dollar,” according to the ruling — a process it has since stopped doing as a result of this lawsuit.
The defendant argued that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue, that it did not make any false or deceptive statements, that if it did they were not material, and that it is entitled to the FDCPA’s bona fide error defense.
Judge Kenneth Gonzales of the District Court for the District of New Mexico first ruled the plaintiff did have standing to sue. Judge Gonzales then ruled the information provided by the defendant in the email and on its website did not constitute a false or deceptive statement. “Read as a whole, the linked pages provide sufficiently clear information that a least sophisticated consumer would be certain of his or her rights,” he wrote.
Judge Gonzales then ruled that the defendant’s actions did, in fact, constitute a bona fide error, and ruled that “no dispute of material fact” exists.