SDNY Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Settlement Language 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 when it sent four letters to an individual that each offered to settle a debt for 50% of the balance owed, while noting that the defendant was not obligated to renew the offer, offering more time to respond if needed, and asking for payment upon receipt of the letters.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Gordon v. Admin Recovery can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff accused the defendant of violating Sections 1692e and 1692e(10) of the FDCPA because the statements in the letters “falsely suggested the settlement offer must be accepted immediately and that no further offers would be forthcoming.”

In reaching his ruling, Judge Vincent Briccetti of the District Court for the Southern District of New York focused on what the word “obligated” means, when the defendant said it was not obligated to renew the offer. In agreeing with Evory v. RJM Acquisitions Funding, which ruled that the statement was not misleading to a least sophisticated consumer, Judge Briccetti declined the plaintiff’s request to see it differently. The statement in question “does not suggest no further offers would be made, nor does it create the false impression the offer must be accepted immediately.”

As well, the other statements pointed out by the plaintiff for being allegedly misleading were not, Judge Briccetti noted. There is nothing wrong with asking the plaintiff to make a payment “upon receipt of this letter,” he wrote. Judge Briccetti also noted a ruling from the District Court in New Jersey in a similar case against the defendant for using the same language does not “convey a false sense of urgency.”

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