Taubenfliegel v. Miller & Malone, P.C., Case No. 1:18-cv-01884-ERK-JO (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2018)

Mound Cotton won summary judgment in favor of its client, Miller & Malone, P.C., in an action alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The FDCPA is a strict liability statute that “generally forbids collectors from engaging in unfair deceptive or harassing behavior” and “establishes certain rights for consumers whose debts are placed in the hands of professional debt collectors for collection.”  Section 1692g(a)(2) of the FDCPA requires that a written debt collection notice contain “the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.”

Plaintiff alleged that the debt collection letter issued by defendant “[m]erely nam[es] the creditor without specifically identifying the entity as the current creditor to whom the debt is owed.”  In moving for summary judgment, defendant argued that the creditor, which was a hospital, was sufficiently identified as the current creditor to whom the debt was owed.  The letter listed the patient name, the hospital account number, the date of service, and the amount due. The district court held: “[t]hese details, read together with the rest of the letter, compel the conclusion that defendant was collecting a debt on behalf of the creditor hospital. . . . Although the word ‘creditor’ is not used, ‘the FDCPA does not require debt collectors to use magic words to avoid liability.'”  Judge Korman held that “no reasonable jury could conclude here that defendant violated the FDCPA.”