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Demanding “Pre-Purchase” Interest Not Valid Under FDCPA

Link: Gomez V. Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC, Case No. 14-cv-09420 (N.D. Ill Sept. 24, 2018).

Plaintiffs had Bank of America (“BOA”) credit cards that were delinquent and charged off in 2009. BOA did not compute or track interest on an account after it was charged off. BOA also did not send regular billing statements to holders of charged-off accounts. Two years after BOA charged off Plaintiffs’ account, BOA sold the account to Cavalry SPV, which immediately assigned it to Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC for servicing and collection.

Plaintiffs, through his counsel Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin LLC, filed a class action lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act alleging that defendants computed and added post-charge-off, pre-purchase interest to the account—basically, that it added two years’ worth of interest that BOA had not computed or tracked while it held the debt.  Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants violated the FDCPA by adding interest to credit card debts after the assignor bank had waived that interest. Both parties filed cross motions for summary judgment.

Plaintiffs argued that (1) BOA waived its right to collect post-charge-off, pre-sale interest, (2) this waiver barred Defendants from imposing post-charge-off, pre-sale interest, and (3) Cavalry violated the FDCPA by adding post-charge-off, pre-sale interest, thereby misrepresenting the amount Plaintiff owed.

Defendants argued that (1) Cavalry SPV is not a debt collector, (2) Plaintiffs’ claim is barred by the statute of limitations, and (3) the response letter is not a collection communication.

Judge Andrea R. Wood entered summary judgment in favor of defendant because it was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations period for FDCPA claims. The court also held, somewhat ironically, that Defendant waived its argument regarding choice-of-law analysis as to the waiver issue (Defendant didn’t want Illinois law to apply). Under that analysis, judge Wood found that:

the fact that BOA chose not to charge interest for two years (and it consciously made that decision as part of a broader policy) indicates that it intended to waive its right to collect this post-charge-off interest retroactively. BOA’s implied waiver of the right to charge interest on Plaintiffs’ account retroactively is further evidenced by the fact that BOA did not send periodic account statements to Plaintiffs.

It thus appears the merits of the suit would likely have supported summary judgment had the statute of limitations been met.

 

Posted in FDCPA

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