On April 15, 2014, a federal judge in New Jersey approved the settlement of a class-action suit against a law firm that allegedly violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Plaintiffs claimed that Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, whose principal office is in Cherry Hill, NJ, and Executive Credit Management, located in Stanhope, NJ, had sent out collection letters to consumers without mentioning the consumers’ right to dispute the debt.
The language, stated in the FDCPA at 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(3), requires collection letters to explain to consumers that they may dispute the debt within 30 days of receiving the initial collection notice and that the debt will be presumed valid if they do not. The Defendants’ letter stated that if the consumer disputed the debt within 30 days of receipt, the firm would provide additional documentation of the debt. However, the letter failed to specifically state that the debt would be presumed valid if not disputed within 30 days.
The Defendants agreed to pay $2,500 to the class representative, $7,000 to the 225 other class members, and $40,000 to the class counsel. The recovery represents approximately $30 per class member.