In a case that was defended by the teams at Martin Lyons Watts Morgan and Lippes Mathias, a District Court judge in New Jersey has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling that including two different addresses on a debt collection letter would not confuse a least sophisticated consumer about where to send a dispute or verification request.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Pistone v. Client Services can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, which was two pages in length. The first address appears at the top of Page One, underneath the name of the defendant. The bottom left corner of that page appeared to be the face of the envelope visible to postal workers when the letter was mailed to the plaintiff, and at the top of that portion of the page was another address, typically where the return address on an envelope would appear.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692c, 1692e, 1692e(10), 1692f, 1692g, and 1692g(b) of the FDCPA because the multiple addresses overshadowed or contradicted the information included in the letter and that a least sophisticated consumer would be confused as to where written disputes should be sent.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the 1692g, 1692g(b), 1692e, and 1692e(10) claims. While ruling the plaintiff lacked standing to bring claims under 1692e and 1692g, Judge Zahid N. Quraishi of the District Court for the District of New Jersey also went ahead and assessed the merits of each claim.
Because the defendant did not use its name in the return address portion of the letter, it made a conscious effort to not confuse the consumer, Judge Quraishi noted. “Were the Court to conclude that the inclusion of Address Two in this context violated § 1692g, such decision would run counter to the purpose of the FDCPA to deter abusive and unfair debt collection practices because such finding would essentially punish Defendant for seeking to avoid confusing the consumer,” he wrote, adding that the 1692e claim must also fail as a matter of law.