In Hamberg v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 2010 WL 2523947 (S.D.Cal. 2010), Judge Huff refused to strike the Plaintiff’s claim for damages under the Rosenthal Act which sought a “per violation” penalty rather than a “per suit”. Judge Huff explained:
Plaintiffs’ SAC seeks statutory damages of $1,000 per violation of the Rosenthal Act. (SAC, prayer for relief.) The Rosenthal Act provides that: ¶ “Any debt collector who willfully and knowingly violates this title with respect to any debtor shall, in addition to actual damages sustained by the debtor as a result of the violation, also be liable to the debtor only in an individual action, and his additional liability therein to that debtor shall be for a penalty in such amount as the court may allow, which shall not be less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000).” ¶ Cal. Civ.Code § 1788.30(b). Chase moves to strike Plaintiffs’ requests for damages arguing that section 1788.30(b) only allows Plaintiffs to recover up to $1,000 per action for alleged violations of the Rosenthal Act. (Doc. No. 22-1 at 12-13.) Chase, however, has failed to cite any binding authority to support its interpretation of the statute. (See Doc. Nos. 22-1 at 12-13 & 25 at 6-8.) Accordingly, the Court concludes that Chase has failed to meet its burden of showing that Plaintiffs’ requests for damages are not recoverable as a matter of law and denies Chase’s motion to strike without prejudice.
The Court’s refusal to read the plain language of the statute and failure to rule unless another Court had first so ruled is not proper. In fact, in other contexts interpreting the Rosenthal Act, the California Attorney General has opined that the Rosenthal Act ought to be read with “consistency with related provisions of federal law”. 85 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 215, 2002 WL 31440180 (Cal.A.G. 2002) Related federal law on the point consistently – at least in California – points to a “per suit” interpretation. See, e.g. Miller v Midland Funding LLC (ND Cal, Sept. 4, 2008, No. CV 07–4869 ODW) 2008 WL 4093004; Masuda v Thomas Richards & Co. (CD Cal 1991) 759 F Supp 1456.