Consumer sued debt collection agency for alleged violations of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Spatt, J., denied consumer’s motion for class certification, 173 F.R.D. 346, granted consumer summary judgment as to liability, 960 F.Supp. 599, and awarded consumer statutory damages and attorney’s fees while denying collection agency’s motion for sanctions and attorney’s fees, 990 F.Supp. 159. Consumer appealed, and collection agency cross-appealed. The Court of Appeals, Pooler, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) collection agency’s payment notice violated FDCPA by asking for immediate payment on front of letter without also explaining that its demand did not override consumer’s rights under FDCPA to seek validation of debt, as explained on reverse side of letter; (2) district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding only $500 in statutory damages to consumer; (3) denial of class certification was not abuse of discretion; (4) in awarding prevailing plaintiff attorney fees, reduction of attorneys’ hourly rates to comport with reasonable fee in the district was not an abuse of discretion; (5) consumer’s attorney was not subject to Rule 11 sanctions based on plaintiff’s contradictory assertions in regard to receipt and reading of particular debt collection letter; but (6) in awarding attorney fees, district court erred in reducing number of compensable hours without providing adequate explanation of its reasons for doing so.Read the full opinion (pdf)
We believe our detailed preparation and reputation for creativity and aggressiveness often have an influence on opponents when employing a means of alternative dispute resolution.