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Sharpe v. Midland Credit Management

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 1, 2017

SHIRLEY D. SHARPE, And all others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
MIDLAND CREDIT MANAGEMENT and MIDLAND FUNDING, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          DuBois, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Shirley D. Sharpe brought this putative class action on behalf of herself and others similarly situated seeking damages that arise from debt-collection letters mailed by defendants to Sharpe and others that allegedly violated provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 etseq. Presently before the Court is defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff initiated the instant suit on December 1, 2016, asserting a single claim under the FDCPA, against defendants Midland Credit Management ("MCM") and Midland Funding, LLC ("Midland Funding). The facts of this case as set forth in plaintiffs Complaint are as follows.

         Midland Funding purchased consumer debt from Capital One Bank (U.S.A.) N.A. ("Capital One") and engaged MCM to collect the debts, including debt owed by plaintiff See Compl. ¶ ¶ 12, 14. On December 2, 2015, defendant MCM sent plaintiff a one-page, double-sided letter ("the Letter") demanding payment of the alleged debt. Compl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff contends that the Letter "bur[ies] or obscure[s]" the statutorily mandated Validation Notice, which informs a consumer of the right to dispute a debt and requires a debt collector to cease collection of that debt pending validation. See Compl. ¶ 17-18. The Letter is attached as Exhibit A.

         The Letter references the debtor's rights vis-a-vis the debt collector in two places on the front page. First, text in the middle of the front page of the Letter provides: "P.S. These payment opportunities do not alter or amend your validation rights as described on the reverse side." That text is located below two text boxes containing bold and enlarged text that discloses possible payment options. Those parts of the Letter are reproduced below.

         (Image Omitted)

         The debtor's rights are referenced again at the bottom of the page in text printed between two large blue boxes. One box, labeled "Account at a Glance, " in bold blue type-face, contains information including the debtor's current balance, possible consumer discounts, and the discount offer expiration date. The other box is titled "Payment Certificate" in white text offset by the blue background and contains instructions for payment. In between those two boxes the debtor is instructed to "PLEASE SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION." Those parts of the Letter are reproduced below.

         (Image Omitted)

         At the top of the reverse side, the Letter reads: "Important Disclosure Information" in bold type-face. The debtor is then met with the two text boxes described hereinafter. The first informs the debtor that the communication is from a debt collector. The text box instructs the debtor in bold, capital letters: "PLEASE SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION, " referring the reader to the front of the Letter. Below the box instructing the debtor to return to the front page are several paragraphs in ordinary typeface, including, beginning in the fourth paragraph, the validation notice. Those parts of the Letter are reproduced below.

         (Image Omitted)

         After receiving the Letter, plaintiff commenced this lawsuit on behalf of herself and others who have received similar letters from defendants. Plaintiff alleges that the Letter violates 15 U.S.C. § 1692g because it "bur[ies] or obscure[s] the important Section 1692g Validation Notice to impede a consumer from learning their rights to seek validation." Compl. ¶ 18.

         III. ...


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