EDNY Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Letter Case

A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for violating a number of provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, such as including multiple addresses in a collection letter and because he received two letters that each included a 30-day validation notice.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Paul v. Enhanced Recovery Company can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received two letters about 40 days apart from one another which were virtually the same — the only difference was the amount of the settlement offers in each letter. Each letter included a validation notice and four different addresses, which the plaintiff alleged, would confuse and mislead the least sophisticated consumer into wondering how long he or she had to dispute a debt and to which address to send a payment or correspondence to the defendant.

But Judge Joan Azrack of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, made methodical, but short work of each of the plaintiff’s claims.

Regarding the fact that each letter included a validation notice, Judge Azrack noted that there is nothing in the FDCPA that prohibits a debt collector from extending the validation period beyond the statutorily required 30 days. And, if a collector chose to make such a decision, a least sophisticated consumer would not find it “deceitful or false” if he were offered “additional time to exercise his right to obtain validation of the debt,” she wrote.

The plaintiff next tried to argue that the formatting of the letter — the validation notice was printed near the bottom of the page, above a disclosure that said, “[p]lease see the reverse side of this letter for important notices concerning your rights” — would make a least sophisticated consumer think the preceding paragraph was “neither important not contained any rights,” he claimed. But, like anyone who can read, even a least sophisticated consumer is expected to read the entire letter, from top to bottom.

Finally, the plaintiff argued that including four addresses in the letter would confuse a least sophisticated consumer because he or she would not be sure to what address to send his or her payment. But, thinking ahead, the defendant provided notifications for each address. For example, underneath one address, the letter said, “Send Correspondence to.” Under another, it said, “Please do not send correspondence to this address.”Under another, it said, “Our Corporate Information is.” The other address was printed on the detachable payment coupon, which provided instructions to be included with the payment. “Based on the context, the least sophisticated consumer would know to send payment using the payment slip and the return envelope,” Judge Azrack wrote.

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