Charleston Partner Peter G. Siachos and Philadelphia Associate D. Wesley Meehan obtained the dismissal of a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") claim on behalf of a national client.
The plaintiff filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, alleging that the client’s letter attempting to collect the plaintiff’s debt was confusing, in violation of the FDCPA. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the letter’s use of the phrases “account balance” and “minimum payment due” could lead the least sophisticated consumer to be confused as to the amount that the client was trying to collect.
Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani removed the matter to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Specifically, GRSM argued that, when read as a whole, the client’s letter was not confusing or misleading because it clearly sought to collect the minimum payment due.
The court agreed and dismissed the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. The court’s opinion noted, as argued by GRSM, that a portion of the language utilized in the letter created a safe harbor insulating debt collectors from liability. Furthermore, the court stated, “It is acceptable under the FDCPA to provide both a total account balance and a minimum payment due to offer detailed information to a debtor surrounding the status of their debt.” Based on the foregoing, the court held that the letter could not plausibly cause confusion to the least sophisticated consumer and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.