Wednesday, October 19, 2005

debt collection - FDCPA - attorney fees

Moyer v. Turnbrook Associates, Inc. -- ED Pa. - October 17, 2005

The court rejected all of defendant's arguments and awarded attorney fees to plaintiff's counsel under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692 et seq.

size of award - Plaintiff's judgment was for $1,000, the statutory maximum. The judgment was based on defendant's failure to comply with the statutory requirements, "suggesting a significant level of non-compliance. Attorney fees are then mandatory under" Graziano v. Harrison, 950 F.2d 107 (3d Cir. 1991).

timing of request for fees -- Defendant said that plaintiff should have made her claim for fees during arbitration. Federal civil rules require plaintiff to request fees no later than 14 days after the entry of judgment. Plaintiff filed w/in that time.

proper party defendant - post-judgment amendment of pleading - Defendant said that the judgment against the corporate entity was unenforceable against the unincorporated Turnbrook Associates. The court allowed a post-judgment amendment of the pleading, under equitable estoppel principles, because defendant "actively misled" plaintiff when it admitted that it was a N.J. corporation.

Donald Marritz
MidPenn Legal Services