By Lee P. Dunham, J.D.
A federal court in New York granted a debt collector’s motion to dismiss in a case filed by several debtor plaintiffs in which they alleged violations of the FDCPA based on collections letters sent by the debt collector in which it identified the creditor as its "client" and not as the "creditor." (Schlesinger v. Jzanus, Ltd., et al., May 24, 2018, Cogan, B.).
Section 1692g of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires a debt collector to identify "the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed" in its communications with consumers. All four plaintiffs received materially identical collections letters from the debt collector. The first line of the letter read "Client: ______" followed by the name of the relevant creditor, all of which were hospitals. The letters also identified the debtors as "patients" and listed the relevant dates of service. The body of the letter contained the following text:
Your account has been placed with us for collection or debt resolution. Please contact us regarding this matter.
If payment is made, please make your check or money order payable to [client name] (include your account number), or you may make a credit card payment by going to our website at www.payjzanus.com.
The bottom of the letter contained the standard disclosures ("This is an attempt to collect a debt…," etc.).
Letter taken as a whole. The plaintiffs argued that the letters violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(2) because they failed to state that the "client" is the creditor and therefore the least-sophisticated consumer would be confused as to the creditor’s identity. The defendant moved to dismiss. The court granted the motions to dismiss, holding that although the letters did not explicitly identify the "client" as a creditor, several portions of the letters, read as a whole, implicitly did so, and that even the least-sophisticated customer would realize that the sender of the letter was collecting the debt for medical services rendered on behalf of the creditor, a medical-services provider.
The case is No. 1:18-cv-00897-BMC.
Attorneys: Daniel Harris Kohn (RC Law Group PLLC) for Frida Schlesinger. Theodore Snyder (Murphy & McGonigle, PC) for Jzanus Ltd.
Companies: Jzanus Ltd.
MainStory: TopStory DebtCollection
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