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Spira v. Ashwood Financial

February 28, 2005

MIRIAM SPIRA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ASHWOOD FINANCIAL, INC., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glasser, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Miriam Spira ("Plaintiff" or "Spira") filed this putative class action against defendant Ashwood Financial, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Ashwood") for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA" or the "Act"), 15 U.S.C. s 1692 et seq. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to dismiss Defendant's counterclaim for attorney's fees, Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff's crossmotion to dismiss the counterclaim and denies Plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed. Defendant is in the business of collecting debts owed to others. (Compl.p 5). It mailed a collection letter to Plaintiff, dated September 13, 2004 (the "First Letter"), demanding payment of $29.08 on behalf of NYUMC Pediatric Cardiology. That letter, written on the letterhead of Ashwood, states as follows:

Dear Miriam Spira:

The above past due account has been placed with us for collection. NOTICE: It is the policy of this agency to report all unpaid accounts to a major credit bureau after 30 days of this notice. Protect your credit by paying this debt. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

(Compl.p 12).

Under the signature line, in the same size print, the First Letter continues as follows:

The purpose of this communication is to collect the debt which is the subject of this letter. Any information obtained will be used for the purpose of collecting the debt.

Unless within (30) days after receipt of the first communication from this office you dispute the validity of the debt or any portion thereof, it will be assumed to be valid. If you notify this office in writing within the thirty (30) day period after receipt of the first communication from this office that you dispute the debt or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt and a copy of such verification, along with the creditor's name and address, will be mailed to you by this office. If you request in writing, within the thirty (30) day period, the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor, this office will provide you with the requested information. This is required under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

(Compl.p Exh.1). This language is known as a "validation notice" under the FDCPA.

Defendant sent Plaintiff a follow-up letter, dated October 12, 2004 (the "Follow-up Letter"), twenty-nine days later. That letter, like the First Letter, was written on Ashwood letterhead, and states as follows:

Dear Miriam Spira,

You have failed to respond to our previous notice advising you of the delinquency of your account. It is our intent to pursue collection of this debt through every means available to us. We extend this opportunity to settle this debt in a friendly manner. You may either send ...


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