Judge Rules Debt Not For Personal Use in FDCPA Case

I don’t know about you, but with all the times that I have purchased real estate — one, to be exact — I remembered whether I was at the closing or whether I had someone attend for me, and whether I inspected the property or whether I bought it sight unseen. The inability for a plaintiff to recall such important details cost him a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case when a District Court judge in Florida ruled in favor of the defendant following a bench trial that was held last week. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s changing recollections kept the judge from determining whether the debt in question was for personal, household, or family purposes, required to meet the definition of “debt” under the FDCPA.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Matos v. Business Law Group and LM Funding can be accessed by clicking here.

Back in 2016, the plaintiff purchased a one-bedroom condominium that he said was going to be a vacation property for his family. But, six weeks later, after undergoing financial and marital difficulties, the plaintiff said he was forced to abandon that plan and instead use the condo as a rental property. Assessments that were made on the condo went unpaid and were attempted to be collected by the defendants. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendants’ activities violated the FDCPA and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. But in order to be subject to the FDCPA, the debt must have been incurred for a personal, household, or family purpose.

The plaintiff testified at trial that he was present at the closing of the sale, but three years ago, during a deposition, he said he was traveling in Canada that day and that he gave power of attorney to an associate to execute the purchase. The plaintiff also testified at trial that he personally inspected the unit, but, during his deposition, he said he had never personally seen the unit. While he testified he never lived in the unit, the associate testified that the plaintiff lived in the condo for a month after closing.

“Matos’s testimony as to his original intent is undermined by his repeated contradictions and his vagueness,” wrote Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida. “And Alves, his other main fact witness in this case, contradicted Matos’s version of events at several points.”

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