In what appears to be yet another in the line of cautionary tales about plaintiffs representing themselves, a District Court judge in New Jersey has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it served a writ of execution to the plaintiff’s mother and not to the plaintiff.
The Background: After obtaining a judgment in a debt collection lawsuit, the defendant filed an application to garnish the plaintiff’s wages, which was approved by a state court judge. The defendant then had the plaintiff’s employer garnish $422.32 from the plaintiff’s wages. But the plaintiff claims that the write of execution was never served to her — the defendants left a copy of it with her mother instead.
- The plaintiff then moved to vacate the default judgment and the wage execution, which was granted.
- The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the default judgment and the writ of execution violated the FDCPA.
The Ruling: Anytime a federal judge uses the word “perplexingly” in reference to a plaintiff’s complaint, it’s likely never going to be a good thing for the plaintiff. Judge Michael A. Shipp of the District Court for the District of New Jersey uses that word and some others to dismiss the plaintiff’s allegations.
- The fact that the writ of execution was served to the plaintiff’s mother and not the plaintiff is not, in and of itself, a violation of the FDCPA, noted Judge Shipp. The plaintiff didn’t do herself any favors, either, by not citing any case law to support her claim. What little case law there is in this area, Judge Shipp noted, actually says the opposite: ineffective service of a default judgment motion or writ of garnishment does not, in and of itself, constitute a violation of the FDCPA.