Judge Grants MSJ For Defense in FDCPA Case Over No-Longer Disputed Debt

A District Court judge in Florida has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case after it was accused of violating the statute because it did not remove a dispute flag from an account that was being reported to the credit reporting agencies after receiving a letter from an attorney indicating that the plaintiff was no longer disputing the debt.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Dukes v. LVNV Funding can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff defaulted on a credit card debt that was acquired by the defendant. The plaintiff, who was working with a credit repair organization, submitted a letter to one of the credit reporting agencies. In the letter, the plaintiff detailed disputes of inaccuracies in her credit report, and next to a line for LVNV Funding, indicated that “this collection is not my account.”

Later that year, the plaintiff retained Credit Repair Lawyers of America to assist her. Two years after that, CRLA sent a letter to the defendant, indicating that the debt was no longer being disputed, and asking for the dispute notation to be removed from the plaintiff’s credit report. Not knowing that the plaintiff was being represented, the defendant did not remove the notation, thinking the letter was a scam.

The plaintiff filed suit, accusing the defendant of violating the FDCPA. During a deposition, the plaintiff was asked whether she disputed the amount of the debt, but did not dispute that some amount was owed, and the plaintiff answered, “correct.” The plaintiff wanted the dispute notation removed so she could obtain a mortgage.

Because the plaintiff admitted during her deposition that she still disputed the debt in question, the defendant could not have violated the FDCPA by failing to remove the dispute notation, ruled Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

“Plaintiff does not have the right to manipulate her credit reports with false representations to improve her access to credit, and she may not weaponize the FDCPA against a debt collector for declining to participate in a scam,” wrote Judge Presnell in granting the defendant’s summary judgement motion.

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