In DeCapri v. Law Offices of Shaprio Brown & Alt, LLP, 2014 WL 4699591 (E.D.Va. 2014), Judge Hudson found a debt collection law firm’s FDCPA validation non-compliant with the FDCPA. Among other violations, Judge Hudson stated:
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(3) by failing to include “by the debt collector” or similar language in the letter’s validation notice. . . . In Fariasantos v. Rosenberg & Assocs., LLC, a recent decision in this district, the dunning letter at issue also omitted “by the debt collector” or its equivalent from the § 1692g(a)(3) validation notice. 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30898, at *22. The defendant argued that its letter effectively conveyed that only the debt collector would assume the debt valid because it used “this office” and “we” throughout and included a final sentence stating that the debtor’s “failure to contest the validity of the debt under the [ FDCPA] may not be construed by any Court as an admission of liability.” Id. at *24–25. Rejecting the defendant’s arguments, the court stated “[t]elling a consumer that a court will not interpret the consumer’s actions as an admission of liability does not clarify the consumer’s understanding of who will assume that his debt is valid.” Id. at *24. And use of “this office” and “we” throughout the letter likewise provided no clarity, even when examining the letter as a whole. Id. at *25. “Without the qualifying prepositional phrase ‘by the debt collector,’ the passive statement that a debt ‘will be assumed to be valid’ simply does not convey who will be doing the assuming,” in violation of the Defendant’s clear obligation under the statute to tell the consumer that it is the debt collector who will assume the debt to be valid. Id. at *23–24. ¶ In this case, Defendant’s letter to Plaintiff simply stated, “If you do not dispute the debt within [thirty days], it will be assumed to be valid.” (Compl. Ex. A ¶ 3). Like the dunning letter at issue in Fariasantos, Defendant omitted the qualifying phrase “by the debt collector” or its equivalent from the letter’s purported 1692g(a)(3) disclosure. Construing Defendant’s letter as a whole and applying the plain meaning of the statute and Fariasantos, Plaintiff properly alleges Defendant’s violation of section 1692g.