Sometimes you win without even trying. A District Court judge in Minnesota has awarded summary judgment to a defendant in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, even though he was addressing a partial motion for summary judgment filed by the plaintiff.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Hekel v. Hunter Warfield can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff was evicted from her apartment for not paying rent and the account was placed with the defendant. The defendant sent the plaintiff a letter, indicating she had an unpaid principal balance of $7,700 and interest of $870. The letter also informed the plaintiff that interest would continue to accrue at a rate of 6%.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692e of the FDCPA because the applicable interest rate on the unpaid debt should have been 4%, not 6%.
The case invokes a pair of state laws in Minnesota regarding the interest rate that can be used in certain situations, with the plaintiff believing that the 4% statute should be used, whereas the defendant countered that the 6% statute was applicable.
Judge Paul A. Magnuson of the District Court for the District of Minnesota ultimately ruled that statute invoked by the defendant was the one that applied in this situation, but noted that even if the plaintiff were correct in arguing which statute applied, she would still not earn summary judgment on her motion. The attempt by the defendant to seek interest at 6% “does not constitute an attempt to collect interest not ‘permitted by law’ in violation of the FDCPA,” Judge Magnuson wrote. “In light of the caselaw discussed above, and although Hunter Warfield does not seek summary judgment on this issue, the attempt to collect six percent interest does not violate the FDCPA, and summary judgment in Hunter Warfield’s favor is warranted.”
The plaintiff has filed a notice of appeal on the ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.