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7th Circuit Rejects Plaintiff’s FDCPA Claim For Listing Two Creditors

Link: Dennis v. Niagara Credit Solutions, Inc., No. 19-1654 (7th Cir. 2019)

The Seventh Circuit rejected an appeal seeking to overturn a decision by Richard L. Young of the Southern District of Indiana. Judge Young dismissed plaintiff’s claim via judgment on the pleadings.

Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the defendants violated § 1692g(a)(2) of the FDCPA by “fail[ing] to identify clearly and effectively the name of the creditor to whom the debt was owed:”

“Listing two separate entities as “creditor” — one of them a debt buyer, which would likely be unknown to the consumer — and not explaining the difference between those two creditors, then stating that Niagara was authorized to make settlement offers on behalf of an unknown client — could very likely confuse a significant portion of consumers who received the letter as to whom the debt was then owed.”

Since the standard of review is de novo, the panel dove into its own analysis of the claim and agreed with the district court:

This is a meritless claim. In Smith, the original and current creditors were the same. In this case, where a consumer’s debt has been sold, it is helpful to identify the original creditor (which the customer is likely to recognize as he had done business with them in the past) and the current creditor (which the customer may not recognize, and which the FDCPA requires the letter to identify). An unsophisticated consumer will understand that his debt has been purchased by the current creditor—an example of the type of “basic inference” we believe such consumers are able to make. The defendants’ letter thus “provides clarity for consumers; it is not abusive or unfair and does not violate § 1692g(a)(2).” Smith, 926 F.3d at 381.

The case was argued by David Philipps and Boyd Gentry.

Posted in FDCPA

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