Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Creditor ID in Letter, Volume of Calls That Were Allegedly Harassing

A District Court judge in New Jersey has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss, ruling that a collector saying it “was willing to accept” an amount to settle a debt is not confusing to a least sophisticated debtor regarding the identity of the creditor to whom the debt was owed, and that the plaintiff did not sufficiently allege why receiving calls on a Saturday and Sunday was harassing, oppressive, or abusive.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Sanders v. American Coradius International can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a letter from the defendant, which also allegedly made “multiple” phone calls, including calling at least twice on four different days while also calling at “inconvenient times” on Saturday and/or Sunday. The letter indicates that USAA Federal Savings Bank was the creditor and that the defendant “was willing to accept $1664.17 to resolve the account.”

The plaintiff filed suit in state court, alleging the defendant violated Sections 1692d, 1692e, and 1692f of the FDCPA. The defendant removed the case to federal court and subsequently filed a motion to dismiss.

The crux of the plaintiff’s argument is that a least sophisticated consumer would have been uncertain about the identity of the owner of the debt because of the claim that the defendant was wiling to accept money to resolve the debt. Reading the rest of the letter, Judge Julien Xavier Neals of the District Court for the District of New Jersey noted that it informed the plaintiff that if a payment was received, the defendant “will notify [their] client so they can update their records accordingly.”

“This further indicates that ACI is the debt collector and USAA Federal Savings Bank is the creditor,” Judge Neals wrote. “The fact that ACI’s letter offers to resolve Plaintiff’s account for an amount less than the account balance is not deceptive or misleading, even to the least sophisticated debtor.”

Regarding the claim that the calls were harassing or oppressive, the plaintiff’s complaint “only mentions the offending conduct when reciting the statutory language,” Judge Neals wrote. Without sufficient allegations, he was not able to determine “whether ACI’s actions were done with the intent to harass, oppress or abuse Plaintiff.”

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