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VASQUEZ v. GERTLER & GERTLER

December 5, 1997

JUAN M. VASQUEZ, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
GERTLER & GERTLER, LTD., STEVEN D. GERTLER, AMY L. GERTLER, and KEVIN F. PLACHTA, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CASTILLO

 Plaintiff Juan Vasquez brought this putative class action in federal court claiming that the defendant law firm of Gertler & Gertler, LTD. ("Gertler") and its lawyers, Steven D. Gertler, Amy L. Gertler, and Kevin F. Plachta, violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692e *fn1" and § 1692g *fn2" His claims under both sections rest on allegations that the defendants sent Vasquez a debt collection letter containing language that contradicts and overshadows his FDCPA rights to dispute the validity of the debt.

 The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), contending that Vasquez cannot state a FDCPA claim under any set of facts consistent with the complaint. This Court converted Vasquez's response to the defendants' motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment after the Seventh Circuit decided Bartlett v. Heibl, 128 F.3d 497, 1997 WL 616675 (7th Cir. 1997), which made clear that courts can decide the overshadowing issue as a matter of law based on the collection letter's language. After careful consideration, we grant the defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, and deny plaintiff's converted motion for summary judgment.

 RELEVANT FACTS *fn3"

 On May 30, 1992, Mr. Vasquez purchased a 1988 Toyota Camry from Schaumburg Toyota through a retail installment contract. (Compl. PP 7, 8.) Vasquez's purchase was financed by First Bank, FSB ("First Bank"). (Id. P 9.) Vasquez allegedly defaulted on his car payments. (Id. P 10.) At this point, First Bank retained the Gertler law firm to collect the $ 1,221.03 allegedly owed. (Id. P 11.) In an attempt to collect this debt, Gertler sent Vasquez a collection letter, which forms the basis of Vasquez's claims. (Id. P 12, 26.) Because the letter disposes of this lawsuit, the Court reproduces its entire text:

 RE: Juan M. Vasquez account with

 First Bank, FSB

 our File No. 97-00161-0

 Dear Mr. Vasquez:

 Please be advised that I have been retained by First Bank, FSB to collect a debt from you in the amount of $ 1,521.03.

 Unless you notify this office within thirty (30) days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office in writing within thirty (30) days from receiving this notice, that you dispute the debt or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt and mail you a copy of such verification. If there has already been a judgment entered against you, and you request from us in writing a verification of such judgment, this office will obtain a copy of the judgment and mail you a copy of the judgment. If you request this office [sic] in writing within thirty (30) days after receiving this notice, this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. Our office is attempting to collect a debt for our client, and any information obtained from you will be used for that purpose.

 Kindly let me have your immediate attention and cooperation by sending me your payment or contacting me without further delay.

 Very truly ...


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