Judge Partially Dismisses FDCPA Suit on Remand From Appeals Court

A District Court judge in Maryland has partially granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss in a case that was remanded back to the court after a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last year determined that the court had erred in deciding when the one-year statute of limitations had stated running on potential violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Bender v. Elmore & Throop can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant was hired to try and collect on a debt that was owed to a homeowner’s association, which the plaintiffs claimed to have paid. During a period of two years, a number of exchanges between the plaintiff, the homeowner’s association, and the defendant were had, including several where the plaintiff requested that the defendant cease communications. Those requests were not followed, according to court documents. The District Court granted a motion to dismiss, but that was overturned last year by the Fourth Circuit, which said that similar violations of the FDCPA should not be grouped together and must be tolled separately.

On remand, Judge Catherine Blake of the District Court for the District of Maryland looked at two issues, a claim that the defendant violated Section 1692c(C) of the FDCPA by violating a cease communication request, and a claim that the defendant violated Sections 1692e and 1692f of the FDCPA by engaging in false, deceptive, or misleading and unfair or unconscionable practices.

Judge Blake did not see it the defendant’s way that the plaintiffs waived their cease communication request and denied the motion to dismiss on that claim when they sent a letter to the HOA regarding the location of an upcoming meeting. The defendant called the plaintiff to inform him he was banned from attending the meeting, but also made the following statement: “[W]ell, this whole thing would not have happened if you would just pay your bills.” That induced the plaintiff to dispute the debt again, which he would not have had to do if the defendant had not made the statement, Judge Blake ruled.

Judge Blake ruled in favor of the defendant on the 1692e and 1692f claims, dismissing them from the complaint.

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