Calif. Appeals Court Affirms Denial of Defendant’s Anti-SLAPP Motion in FDCPA Case

A California Appeals Court has affirmed the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion filed by a defendant being sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for allegedly making false representations in an underlying collection lawsuit.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Paredes v. Credit Consulting Services can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant filed a collection lawsuit seeking to recover $9,613 in unpaid dental debts owed by the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed never to have received service of the summons and complaint, and became aware of the suit when she received a memorandum of costs after a default judgment had been entered against her. More than a year after the complaint was reportedly served, the plaintiff filed her own suit, accusing the creditor and the defendant of engaging in unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices in violation of the FDCPA and the Rosenthal FDCPA.

The defendant filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims arose from protected litigation activity and because the plaintiff had no probability of prevailing on the merits of the case. The anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) statute is intended to provide for early dismissal of meritless lawsuits.

But a state court judge denied the motion, which the defendant appealed.

In denying the appeal, the state Appeals Court ruled that the statute of limitations in the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act were suspended when the plaintiff filed her cross-complaint. The defendant also attempted to argue that it was entitled to the FDCPA’s bona fide error defense, that state tolling laws should not be applied to the FDCPA, and that the statute of limitations in the FDCPA is a jurisdictional limit and thus, not subject to tolling, but the Appeals Court rejected each of those arguments.

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