Debt collector Credit Protection Association, LP won a rare defense jury verdict in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case in the US District Court in Eastern Michigan.
Longordo v. Credit Protection Associates was decided on May 9. The numerous allegations Longordo claimed in the suit ranged from unauthorized calls made to his cell phone to the use of unfair means to collect a debt. The circumstances of the case stemmed from a cable-service debt that was placed for collections with CPA by the original creditor, Comcast.
Suits of this nature rarely make it to trial as many collection agencies settle for less than the cost of defending the case. “Our client decided it was time to take a stand,” said Nabil G. Foster of Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, counsel for CPA.
After a four-day trial, Judge Avern Cohn tossed out the FDCPA claims. The jury returned a unanimous verdict on the remaining TCPA allegations in favor of CPA after only ten minutes of deliberation.
“The speedy defense jury verdict in this case really speaks to the lack of credibility of the plaintiff,” said Foster. Court records show the plaintiff has filed numerous federal lawsuits against other creditors and collection agencies. However, “this is probably the first time anyone challenged this plaintiff to tell his story to a jury,” said Foster.
Across the country, the incidence of debt collection litigation is growing, even as consumer debt levels and bankruptcies are on the decline. Many blame the rise of an aggressive breed of consumer attorneys who are cashing in on the fact that it is often cheaper for collectors to settle cases than to go to trial. A May 2015 WebRecon study reported that 1,322 unique plaintiffs filed suit under consumer statutes in April of this year. The study also shows that 33 percent of those plaintiffs have sued under consumer statutes before. Combined, they are responsible for 2,615 lawsuits since 2001.
“This is a big win for us,” said Diane Evans, Executive Vice President of Operations for CPA. “It makes a strong statement that not every case against a debt collector is a guaranteed pay day, and that collection agencies can win a jury trial when we are on the right side of the law.”