Judge Denies Renewed MSJ in FDCPA Case Over Status of Letter

A District Court judge in Florida has denied a defendant’s renewed motion for summary judgment after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not including some of the required disclosures in a letter sent to the plaintiff, which the defendant attempted to claim should not have been considered a communication in connection with the collection of a debt.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Valenzuela v. Axiom Acquisition Ventures, LLC, can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a letter from the defendant, notifying him that the underlying debt had been re-assigned and to remit future payments to the new entity. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692e, 1692f, and 1692g of the FDCPA because it did not inform him of his right to dispute the debt, it confused and misled him as to the origins and chain of ownership of the debt, and it concealed the defendant’s status as a debt collector.

The defendant argued that the letter was merely meant to be a notification about the reassignment of the debt. Following precedent within the Eleventh Circuit that says a collection letter may have more than one purpose, Judge Tom Barber of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, ruled that this letter met that criteria.

The inclusion of “specific language urging” the plaintiff to remit future payments to the new entity constitutes a “communication in connection with collection of a debt.” Judge Barber ruled. “Had that part of the letter not been included, the outcome here may have been different.”

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