Consumer’s suit against debt collection law firm may proceed

A woman who sued an Indianapolis law firm over its debt-collection letter has plausibly stated potential violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal judge ruled.

Attorney Zachary J. Eichel of Einterz & Einterz in Zionsville sent two letters to Alfreda Chandler seeking to collect an unpaid debt of more than $16,000 for a roof that was installed on her home. The second letter provided information about proceedings supplemental in a suit the roofing contractor had filed against her, and it also enclosed a copy of a praecipe for sheriff’s sale that had been filed with the Marion Superior Court.

Chandler alleged that the first letter didn’t provide disclosures of consumer rights required under the FDCPA, and that the second letter was misleading because no praecipe for sheriff’s sale had been filed. These omissions, she argues, violate the consumer notice provisions under 15 USCA Sections 1692e and 1692g(a).

In an order issued Monday, Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson denied the law firm’s motion to dismiss. “Ms. Chandler’s Complaint plausibly pleads multiple violations of the FDCPA, though each alleged violation is sufficient on its own for Ms. Chandler’s Complaint to survive a motion to dismiss,” Magnus-Stinson wrote.    

Citing Janetos v. Fulton Friedman & Gulace, LLP, 825 F.3d 317, 319 (7th Cir. 2016), she wrote, “Section 1692g(a) requires debt collectors to disclose specific information … in certain written notices they send to consumers.  If a letter fails to disclose the required information clearly, it violates the Act, without further proof of confusion. Section 1692g(a) also does not have an additional materiality requirement, express or implied. Congress instructed debt collectors to disclose this information to consumers, period …”

Consumers may collect up to $1,000 in statutory damages for violations of the act as well as other potential damages, plus attorney fees and costs.

The case is Chandler v. Eichel et al., 1:17-cv-681.

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