A Magistrate judge in Florida has recommended that an attorney with Credit Repair Lawyers of America be sanctioned and pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, after the attorney sent a letter indicating the plaintiff was no longer disputing the debt, when in fact the plaintiff was still disputing the debt.
A copy of the recommendation, in the case of Dukes v. LVNV Funding, can be accessed by clicking here.
Last October, a District Court judge granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that the defendant could not have violated the FDCPA by failing to remove the dispute notation because the plaintiff admitted during her deposition that she still disputed the debt. The defendant did not remove the notation because it was not aware that the plaintiff was being represented by CRLA and thought the letter was a scam.
The defendant filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs under Section 1692k of the FDCPA and 28 U.S.C. Section 1927. The judge recommended that sanctions not be granted under Section 1692k of the FDCPA because the plaintiff’s complaint was not frivolous nor intended to harass the defendant. But under Section 1927, Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer of the District Court for the Middle District of Orlando, agreed with the defendant. From the moment the plaintiff testified she still disputed the debt, the “continued pursuit of her claim following her deposition was objectively reckless because counsel’s conduct was beyond mere negligence and unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied the proceedings,” Judge Bremer wrote.