New York Court Tosses Class Action Over Interest and Fees Disclosure

A wave of lawsuits filed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, especially in the Second Circuit, continues regarding disclosures of interest and fees in collection letters. Consumers have complained about failure to warn of interest and fees continuing to accrue, as well as failure to disclose that interest and fees did not accrue. The Second Circuit addressed these issues three times in the past two years in Avila, Taylor, and Derosa. However, this has not deterred the consumer bar from bringing new claims over even the most careful disclosures.

In this most recent unsuccessful putative class action, consumer plaintiff Andrew Gissendaner sued Enhanced Recovery Company over a letter that listed interest and fees as “N/A.” The letter also explained that “upon receipt of [Gissendaner’s] payment and clearance of funds in the amount of $2,562, [his] account will be considered paid in full.”

Gissendaner posited that “N/A” for interest and fees was misleading because “every debt accrues interest” and listing “N/A” for interest could lead a least sophisticated consumer to think that interest never accrued on his debt. Enhanced Recovery argued in response that the statements were true because no interest or fees accrued since the debt was placed with Enhanced Recovery for collection. Enhanced Recovery also emphasized that Gissendaner was ignoring the part of the letter which stated that if he paid a specific amount by a certain date, his debt would be satisfied.

In its opinion granting Enhanced Recovery’s cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Western District of New York did not have any difficulty concluding that the Second Circuit’s decision in Taylor governed. To be sure, Gissendaner admitted that no interest or fees were accruing and “supplied no convincing reason why the Court should find Taylor distinguishable.” Accordingly, the Court held that the letter was not confusing and that Gissendaner’s claim lacked merit.

Continued development of favorable precedent, such as this case, is vital in helping to deter meritless “current balance” or “reverse-Avila” claims.