Judge Lowers Fee Award in FDCPA Case

A District Court judge in Pennsylvania has lowered the fee award in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, almost ending up exactly in the middle between the amount sought by the plaintiff and the amount suggested by the defendant.

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

After filing a suit accusing the defendant of violating the FDCPA by reporting to the credit reporting agencies that the plaintiff owed a debt without noting that the plaintiff had disputed it, the two sides agreed to an offer of judgment, in which the plaintiff would receive $1,001 and the defendant would pay reasonable attorney’s fees. The plaintiff sought $4,795 in fees while the defendant sought to have the award lowered to $3,300, arguing that many of the tasks reportedly performed by the plaintiff’s attorney could have been done by a paralegal and that more time than needed was spent drafting a “form complaint.”

Judge Karen Marston of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania chose to exclude 0.4 hours for administrative tasks performed by the plaintiff’s attorney — such as reviewing court notices of filed documents and attaching to file — and forwarding emails of docketed filings to the client. Judge Marston also adjusted the 0.5 hours that the plaintiff’s attorney spent researching a case to that of a junior associate instead of an experienced attorney like the one who represented the plaintiff.

Judge Marston rejected the plaintiff’s argument that emails exchanged between attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant were not just administrative, and that 2.1 hours spent drafting a form complaint was adequate.

Ultimately, the judge lowered the fee award to $4,136.25.

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