A Magistrate Court judge in Atlanta has recommended granting a defendant’s motion for summary judgment and granting the defendant’s motion for sanctions against the plaintiff in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case that you really have to read to believe.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Cairobe v. Zwicker & Associates can be accessed by clicking here.
There is a lot of back-and-forth to unpack, both in the summary judgment motion and the motion for sanctions and it’s probably best if you read it in the ruling because my attempt at summarizing it is likely to get confusing and skip many of the juicy details. Suffice to say that the plaintiff filed suit and accused the defendant of attempting to collect on a $15,000 credit card account that she allegedly did not open — a claim she maintained while she was being sued for not paying the debt, while she was pursuing her own lawsuit, and while she was filing three reports with the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement for fraud and identity theft — until the defendant produced recordings of two phone calls between the plaintiff and representatives of the original creditor where she admitted that the account at issue was indeed her own. The plaintiff had opened the credit card account in connection with her business, which meant the debt in question was not subject to the FDCPA and meaning that summary judgment should be granted for the defendant, recommended Judge John K. Larkins III of the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Turning to the sanctions motion, again there is a lot of back-and-forth between the attorney representing the defendant, Manny Newburger of Barron & Newburger, and attorneys representing the plaintiff, from Credit Repair Lawyers of America. Ultimately, the issue boils down to a doomed deposition in which Newburger was present, but neither the plaintiff nor her attorney showed up. There are twists and turns involving a resignation, forms that were filled out incorrectly, and a plaintiff who felt that her non-appearance was justified in some way.