Lynn Becker vs Montgomery

This is a case that establishes that violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are automatically violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.




CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:02CV 874 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24992

The consumer suing under the FDCPA need not prove that a violation was intentional or negligent in most cases. Lee v. Thomas & Thomas, 109 F.3d 302 (6th Cir. 1997). The “FDCPA is a strict liability statute.” Id.

The letter sent by Defendant Montgomery, Lynch violated numerous aspects of the FDCPA, including but not limited to 15 USC 1692e(11), 15 USC 1692e [*4] preface and 15 USC 1692e(10). Unfortunately, even though Defendant Montgomery, Lynch has exhibited a nearly total disregard for the requirements of the FDCPA, this Court may only make one statutory damages award with the maximum amount being One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00). Wright v. Finance Service of Norwalk, Inc., 22 F.3d 647 (1994).

The FDCPA also allows the Court to award actual damages, in addition to the statutory damages, pursuant to 15 USC 1692k(a)(1). State law requirements regarding the proof of intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress are not applicable to actual damages under the FDCPA. In Smith v. Law Offices of Mitchell N. Kay, 124 B.R. 182, 185 (D.Del. 1991). the district court instructed the jury:” First, actual damages may be awarded the plaintiff as result of the failure of defendants to comply with the Act. Actual damages not only include any out-of-pocket expenses, but also damages for personal humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish or emotional distress.” Actual damages are certainly appropriate where the conduct of the debt collector is egregious, as it is [*5] here. See, Boyce v. Attorney’s Dispatch Service, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12970, 1999 WL 33496505 (S.D. Ohio, April 27, 1999).

The multiple violations of the FDCPA and the particularly offensive implication that the failure to pay the amount will cause hard feelings and implying that she should display the “proper attitude” when dealing with Montgomery, Lynch is sufficient to cause anyone embarrassment, humiliation and upset. It is important to note that even though Plaintiff works for a debt collector herself, the inclusion of the type of language placed in its collection letters by Montgomery, Lynch would be offensive and upsetting even to those in the business and certainly to the least sophisticated consumer. See, Smith v. Computer Credit, Inc., 167 F.3d 1052 (6th Cir. 1999).

Accordingly, this Court awards Plaintiff the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($ 250.00) [*6] in actual damages for Montgomery, Lynch’s violation of the FDCPA.