Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Alleged Attorney Threat in Letter

A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the plaintiff received a collection letter that indicated her account would be referred to an attorney to review “possible legal options” if a payment was not received, ruling that the statement was not a threat to take action that could not be taken and that the letter provided the plaintiff with enough options to avoid such a fate.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Mikhael v. Credit Corp Solutions can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. It stated, in part:

We are writing to inform you that your account has been referred to our Pre-Legal Department. We have been unsuccessful in establishing a resolution to your account and have not received any significant payment from you to reduce your outstanding balance of $26,567.39.

Please note that you account meets our legal referral criteria and is eligible to be referred to an attorney. If payment is not received we will be sending your account to a law firm to be reviewed by an attorney for possible legal options. If you are unable to make the full payment or have any queries in relation to your account you should contact out Pre-Legal Department immediately quoting reference DT 30388063.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692e(5) and 1692e(10) of the FDCPA because it threatened to take action that cannot be legally taken or that was not intended to be taken. The defendant, according to the plaintiff, had no plans to refer the account to an attorney.

But that’s not what the letter stated, according to Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York. There was nothing in the letter or the plaintiff’s complaint to claim that the defendant “did not have any future intention” to refer the account to a law firm, she wrote.

The letter did not also violate 1692e(10) because it the plaintiff offered no facts to “lead the court to conclude that any of the language in the Letter amounted to a materially false representation.”

Ultimately, the “Plaintiff goes a step too far in characterizing the Letter as the sort of abusive collection notice the FDCPA was meant to guard against, and the court is hesitant to aid a Plaintiff ‘whose claims are based on ‘bizarre or idiosyncratic interpretations of collection notices,’ ” Judge Matsumoto wrote.

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