Philadelphia Partner Andrew M. Schwartz Secures Affirmance in Appeal for Putative Class Action

April 2023

On March 30, 2023, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Philadelphia Partner Andrew M. Schwartz secured affirmance in an appeal in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania for a putative class action on behalf of his client, a receivables management company.

Having prevailed on preliminary objections (with a one hour and twenty minute oral argument) in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, the plaintiff, individually and on behalf of her putative class, appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. On March 2, 2023, Mr. Schwartz participated in the oral argument before an appellate panel composed of Judges Dan Pellegrini, Carolyn H. Nichols, and Judith Ference Olson.

The two issues for the appeal were whether a collection letter seeking to collect on a time-barred debt violated the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (“FCEUA”) because it did not provide a disclaimer to the consumer advising that the debt was time-barred. The second issue was whether a consumer can recover under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices And Consumer Protection Law (“CPL”), for an alleged violation of the FCEUA, in the absence of an ascertainable loss of money or property incurred in detrimental reliance on the deceptive conduct of a debt collector.  

The appellate panel affirmed the trial court’s determination that a collection letter seeking total payment of a time-barred debt did not require disclaimer that the debt was time-barred because the letter did not imply a legally enforceable right to the debt. More significantly, the panel confirmed that, in order for a private litigant to recover under the CPL through the FCEUA for a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), the litigant needs to have incurred an ascertainable loss.

Pittsburgh Partner Jessica G. Lucas was instrumental to this victory both at the trial and appellate level against a contentious opposing counsel. A copy of the precedential opinion in Matteo, et al., v. EOS USA, Inc., Superior Court of Pennsylvania, No. 733 WDA 2022 is attached here.