A state court complaint’s misstatements of the amount owed and interest rate in a complaint a law firm filed to collect a consumer credit card debt were material and a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from making false statements when attempting to collect debts from consumers. Here, a debt collection law firm filed a state court complaint against plaintiff seeking to collect a credit card debt. The complaint overstated the amount due on the credit card and the interest rate applicable to that debt. This decision holds that these misstatements were “material” for purposes of the FDCPA because they reasonably could have caused the least sophisticated debtor to be disadvantaged in responding to the complaint—as by paying too much to repay or settle the debt. Hence, the defendant was not entitled to summary judgment on the FDCPA claim. Nevertheless, the defendant was entitled to summary judgment on the Rosenthal FDCPA claim because it made an unrebutted showing that it corrected the errors within 15 days of discovering them. While enactment of Civ. Code 1788.17 nullified some of Civ. Code 1788.30’s limitations on remedies by allowing consumers all remedies permitted under the FDCPA, enactment of 1788.17 did not nullify the 15-day correction affirmative defense set out in 1788.30(d).
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Clifton, J.); August 18, 2017; 2017 WL 3567829