Referring Reader to Second Page of Letter Doesn’t Overshadow Validation Notice, Judge Rules

Similar to a case that wrote about last week, a District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss on the grounds it did not overshadow the validation notice in a collection letter because it referred the plaintiff to the back of the letter for other important information.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Weinberg v. CKS Financial can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, on which information was printed on the front and back. The second paragraph of the first paragraph included the validation notice, which said, “If you notify this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt, or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgement or verification.” At the bottom of the first page, it said, “NOTICE: SEE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS LETTER FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION.” On the back of the letter were state-specific disclosures.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692g(a) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not clearly conveying the validation notice and overshadowing it by emphasizing the “important information” that was included on the second page of the letter.

Similar to how she ruled in Mills v. Client Services two days later, Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall made short work of the plaintiff’s argument that a least sophisticated consumer would be confused by the statement at the bottom of the page, especially when considering other courts have ruled that going as far as to include the validation notice on the second page of a letter does not rise to the level of an FDCPA violation.

“Certainly, if the least sophisticated consumer can be expected to read the second page of a debt collection letter, he can reasonably be expected to read the first page,” the judge wrote. “As the validation notice is on the front page of the Letter, and is not overshadowed or contradicted by the text on either side of the notice, it is legally sufficient.”

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