Court: Lawyers not required to disclose status as debt collectors in cover letters

Recently, the 10th
District Court of Appeals ruled that a law firm is not required to disclose its
status as a debt collector within a cover letter accompanying the service of a
motion or memoranda. The court held that while such letters may have the
tangential affect of conveying information regarding a debt, they also are
communications inherent in an ordinary lawsuit and therefore do not violate the
Fair Debt Collections Practice Act. The case at issue stemmed from an instant
action filed by Perry Silverman against the law firm of Roetzel and Andress on
Jan. 17. Silverman alleged that Roetzel and Andress violated Section 1692e(11)
of the FDCPA, which requires debt collectors to make certain disclosures when
communicating with a debtor. The "communications" at issue were four cover
letters sent to Silverman by Roetzel and Andress, after the firm had been
substituted as representative counsel for Citibank in its complaint against
Silverman.
According to court documents, Silverman had refused to pay a
balance of $8,942.45 owed on a credit card that he maintained with Citibank, and
the bank filed a complaint against him on Aug. 16, 2004. The case was resolved
in December 2005, when the trial court rendered summary judgment in Citibank’s
favor. Silverman filed his January 2006 action against the law firm shortly
thereafter, and Roetzel and Andress moved to dismiss his complaint on Jan. 31.
Silverman moved for summary judgment, but on April 17, 2004, the trial court
denied his motion and granted Roetzel and Andress’ motion to dismiss. Alleging
that he should have been permitted to adjudicate his claims on their merits,
Silverman appealed the decision to the 10th District Court of Appeals.

Source: Credit and Collection News

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