A plaintiff in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case has learned an important schoolyard lesson – no backsies. A District Court judge in New Jersey has denied the plaintiff’s motion vacate an arbitration ruling in favor of a defendant, ruling that the plaintiff’s arguments were sour grapes made after the time to complain had long since passed.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Church v. Midland Funding can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff defaulted on a credit card debt that was purchased by the defendant. The agreement issued by the original creditor had an arbitration clause in it, which gave the plaintiff the opportunity to reject the provision, which the plaintiff did not do.
The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant that included the following statement: “If your account goes to an attorney, the flexible pay options . . . may no longer be available to you. If this process results in litigation, and a judgment is entered against you, the judgment will be enforceable according to state law.” The plaintiff suit, arguing the word “may” violated the FDCPA because the defendant would continue to offer flexible payment options even after the account was sent to an attorney or a collection lawsuit was filed.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, compel arbitration. The judge granted the motion to compel arbitration and that’s where the case went. The case was assigned to an arbitrator, who ruled in favor of the defendant. Use of the word “may” was not threatening nor misleading and the claim was dismissed.
This is where the plaintiff decided that there were underlying issues with the arbitrator and the forum and sought to have the award dismissed. But the challenge to the arbitrator or the forum needed to be raised prior to the plaintiff losing his case, ruled Judge Evelyn Padin of the District Court for the District of New Jersey, who goes into great detail to explain all the reasons why the plaintiff’s arguments are unfounded.