Joseph Sacher's Appellate Victory Affirms Dismissal with Prejudice of Federal Class Action

November 26, 2018 | Category: BLOG, News, Reported Decisions

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Miami partner Joseph Sacher and associate Andrew Schindler obtained an Opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirming their earlier obtained Order Granting Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice, and simultaneous Judgment in favor of the defendant. The case was a putative class action that alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692 (“FDCPA”).

The underlying two count lawsuit asserted that the defendant debt collector engaged in an act or omission prohibited by the FDCPA and, in doing so, also engaged in false, deceptive, and misleading means in connection with the attempted collection of a debt. The claims were based on a form letter used by the debt collector, which the plaintiff claimed to be in violation of the FDCPA, and that did not satisfy the “least sophisticated consumer” standard.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, finding that, as a matter of law, the letter was not confusing to the least sophisticated consumer and that the letter complied with the FDCA. In doing so, the court also noted that any amendment would be futile.

The Eleventh Circuit fully agreed with the District Court, stating that, “[the debt collector’s] letter unequivocally stated that a consumer could ‘notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that [they] dispute the validity of this debt or nay portion thereof…’ As the district court ably explained, ‘reading the letter as a whole clearly communicates that the recipient has the right to challenge ‘any portion’ of the debt.’”

The Miami team secured the earlier dismissal and judgment less than four months from the filing of the action, and received the subsequent appellate opinion approximately five months after the appeal was filed.

Similar claims have been brought in multiple jurisdictions outside of Florida based on related grounds. The client was extremely pleased with the initial win and the new and favorable precedent in Florida at the District Court level, and was thrilled that Gordon & Rees was also able to create new regional precedent, based on the Eleventh Circuit decision – all of which will be useful in defending similar actions in the future.

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