Judge Grants Motion For Defense in FDCPA Case Over Creditor Identification in Letter

Robbie Malone and the team at Malone Frost Martin shared the details of a victory in a case in which a District Court judge in New York granted a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings after it was accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not properly identifying the creditor to whom a debt was owed in a collection letter.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Kim v. Client Services, Inc. can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. At the top of the letter was the following information:

RE: CHASE BANK USA, N.A.
ACCOUNT NUMBER: XXXXXXXXXXXX2950
BALANCE DUE: $7,220.32
REFERENCE NUMBER: [Redacted]5266

The letter started, “We are offering you a settlement amount of $723.00, to settle this CHASE BANK, USA, N.A. account for less than the balance due.” The letter also included the mini-miranda in capital letters indicating the letter was coming from a debt collector.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692e(10) of the FDCPA by using false, deceptive, or misleading representations when collecting on a debt because the letter did not properly identify the creditor to whom the debt was owed or the relationship between the defendant and Chase Bank.

There have been cases that have gone in favor of the plaintiffs when a collection letter only uses a “Re:” reference to identify the creditor to whom the debt was owed. But, in this case, the defendant included the account number and balance associated with the account and referenced the creditor in the body of the letter. As well, Chase and the defendant were the only two companies mentioned in the letter and the defendant identified itself as a debt collector in the mini-miranda.

That was more than enough for Judge Dora Irizarry of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York to grant the defendant’s motion.

“Plaintiff’s interpretation that Chase Bank may have transferred the debt to Defendant, such that Defendant is both the creditor and debt collector is an idiosyncratic and unreasonable interpretation that goes beyond the text of the Letter,” Judge Irizarry wrote. “The least sophisticated consumer would not make such a leap. The Letter does not indicate or even suggest that the debt was sold, transferred or assigned from Chase Bank to Defendant or any other entity.”

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