SW Legal studies in Business

Communication About Debt to Debtors Attorney Not Violation of FDCPA
Description

Trial court sided with a majority of other courts in rejecting a claim by a debtor that a letter from a debt collector to the debtor’s attorney about a debt did not violate the FDCPA. The attorney is sophisticated and is serving as intermediary in resolving debt problems, so there is no damaging result from the communication.

Topic

Consumer Protection

Key Words

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; Bankruptcy; Threat of Suit

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Villegas had filed for bankruptcy. Weinstein, a debt collector, sent a letter to the lawyer representing Villegas in bankruptcy, threatening to sue for a debt owed. Villegas sued Weinstein for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for sending the letter to her lawyer rather than to her. Weinstein moved to dismiss the complaint.

Decision

Motion granted. There is a split of authority among the courts as to whether this action is a violation of the FDCPA. This court holds that it is not a violation. First, a consumer and her attorney can fall into the category of the same “person” for purposes of the statute since the attorney, representing the debtor in bankruptcy, knows the status of the debts. Such communications are not subject to the “least sophisticated consumer” standard of the FDCPA since attorneys are not such consumers. It was not unreasonable to assume that the attorney was the intermediary in settlement of debts owed by Villegas. The claim itself was not false.

Citation

Villegas v. Weinstein & Riley, P.S., ---F.Supp.2d--- (2010 WL 2787454, M.D., Penn., 2010)

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