Judge Grants MSJ for Defendant in FDCPA Case Over Creditor ID in Letter

A District Court judge in Florida has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, while also pointing out that the legal theory put forth by the plaintiff’s attorney has been “tartly” rejected by other courts and “does not improve by repetition.”

A copy of the ruling in the case of Hernandez v. Oliphant Financial can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff defaulted on a personal loan that was subsequently purchased by Accelerated Inventory Management (AIM) and placed with the defendant for collection. The plaintiff claims to not recognize the name of the original creditor, the current creditor, or the collector that were mentioned in a collection letter that was sent to her by the defendant. But the plaintiff knew the name of the company that acted as the original processor of the loan and that she signed documents detailing that name of the originator — the original creditor — and that the loan could be sold or assigned to someone else.

As for the letter, there was much else the defendant could do to make things clearer, ruled Judge William Jung of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida. “The letter lists the unpaid loan, which was assignable by contract with no notice provision, as well as the current and former creditors,” he wrote. “It accurately describes AIM’s role and Oliphant’s role. Under the ‘least sophisticated consumer’ standard, the letter is clear, plain, and understandable.”

The plaintiff also attempted to argue that the letter, under New York pleading rules, did not prove the full chain of custody or identify the rightful owner of the debt. While the plaintiff resided in New York, the original agreement was governed under Utah law, noted Judge Jung, listing four other cases in which the theory has been rejected. “Plaintiff’s counsel has repeatedly made this argument in other FDCPA cases, and other courts have tartly rejected it,” he wrote. “Plaintiff’s rejected theory does not improve by repetition. The test is not whether New York collection actions on assignee debt require special pleading hurdles.”

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