A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the plaintiff believed that a collection letter he received which was signed by an attorney was not actually signed by the attorney and that the attorney was not meaningfully involved in reviewing the account before signing or sending the letter. Ultimately, the judge ruled, the plaintiff has to do more than just make assertions in order to substantiate his claims.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Braun v. Relin, Goldstein, & Crane can be accessed by clicking here.
The letter in question was signed and dated by an attorney with the defendant’s firm. Underneath the signature were two checkboxes and the box next to the name of the attorney who signed the letter was checked in the same color ink as the signature.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692e because of the lack of meaningful attorney involvement and Section 1692g because putting the firm’s letterhead at the top of the letter overshadowed his opportunity to dispute the debt or request information about the original creditor.
But in his lawsuit, the plaintiff relies on nothing but “information and belief” in making his claim that the attorney was not meaningfully involved. “Without providing some factual detail to justify these assertions, such allegations are insufficient to support the conclusion that there was no meaningful attorney involvement,” wrote Judge Charles J. Siragusa of the District Court for the Western District of New York.
Judge Siragusa makes even shorter work of the plaintiff’s 1692g claim, noting that the second paragraph of the letter in question contains the full validation notice informing the plaintiff of his rights to dispute the debt and obtain information about the original creditor.
“There is no reference in the letter to potential legal action, the language regarding Braun’s validation rights is clear, and the closing lines of the body of the letter merely invite Braun to contact RGC by phone between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, to resolve the unpaid balance on his credit card,” Judge Siragusa wrote.