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‘Four-Second Review’ Decision Cited in Meaningful Involvement Class Action

Following on the heels of a June 30 decision finding that a New Jersey law firm violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because its attorneys spent four seconds reviewing a pleading, a complaint seeking class certification has been filed against the same firm, citing findings of fact from the adverse court opinion. The complaint, filed in New Jersey state court last month, was removed to the federal District of New Jersey last week.

The complaint is available here.

The complaint focuses on a May 2014 settlement letter, which it alleges was not prepared by attorneys and was sent before an “attorney exercised professional judgment by independently evaluating the collection demands and determining that sending a collection letter was warranted.” It further alleges that the attorneys permitted non-lawyers to send letters that no attorney had personally reviewed, and that attorneys had not first reviewed the underlying account documents.

The plaintiff also alleges that the letter misrepresented that the creditor was required to report settlement of disputed debts to the Internal Revenue Service and did not “identify common exceptions to IRS reporting requirements that would apply to the settlement of disputed debts.”

Finally, the complaint alleges the letter violated the FDCPA by attempting to collect a debt subject to an expired statute of limitations and by “failing to include a notice in its letters  . . . that the underlying debt was time-barred and unenforceable.”

Maurice & Needleman regularly advises debt collection law firms on matters of professional responsibility and consumer financial protection law. Our attorneys review collection law firm practices and assist firms in strengthening their practices to promote compliance with consumer financial protection laws and professional ethics requirements. In addition to our trial and appellate work defending claims alleging violation of consumer financial protection laws, the firm defends attorneys against ethics charges and professional malpractice. Contact Don Maurice at (908) 237-4570 or dsm@mnlawpc.com for more information.

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Donald Maurice provides counsel to the financial services industry, successfully litigating matters in the state and federal courts in individual and class actions. He has successfully argued before the Third, Fourth and Eighth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals, and has represented the financial services industry before several courts including as counsel for amicus curiae before the United States Supreme Court. He counsels clients in regulatory actions before the CFPB, and other federal and state regulators and in the development and testing of debt collection compliance systems. Don is peer-rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, the worldwide guide to lawyers. In addition to being a frequent speaker and author on consumer financial services law, he serves as legal counsel to DBA International and as chair of the ABA's Bankruptcy and Debt Collection Subcommittee. He serves on the governing Board of Regents of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers and on the Governing Committee of the Conference on Consumer Finance Law .