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VEILLARD v. MEDNICK

October 13, 1998

PATRICK VEILLARD, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD M. MEDNICK, AND DOCTORS SERVICE BUREAU, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CASTILLO

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 In this putative class action, plaintiff Patrick Veillard alleges that defendants Richard Mednick ("Mednick") and Doctors Service Bureau, Inc. ("Bureau") violated numerous provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA" or "Act"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692. The one-count complaint alleges seven violations of the FDCPA stemming from one letter sent to Veillard on October 6, 1997, from Richard M. Mednick and Associates on behalf of their creditor-clients.

 Veillard claims that the defendants violated the Act in three ways: the defendants' collection letter purports to emanate from an attorney who is not actually involved in handling the file, in violation of §§ 1692e, 1692f, and 1692g; creates the false belief that Mednick is participating in the collection of the debt, in violation of § 1692j; *fn1" and contradicts and overshadows the required validation statement, in violation of § 1692g. Presently pending before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow each motion is partially granted and partially denied.

 RELEVANT FACTS

 The facts of this case are straightforward and undisputed. Defendant Bureau is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Evanston, Illinois. Bureau is a licensed collection agent in Illinois and has been since 1989. Defendant Richard Mednick is an attorney licensed in Illinois with his office located Evanston, Illinois. He is listed in the telephone book, Sullivan's Law Directory, Index to Law Firms, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and directory assistance as an attorney. Mednick employs non-attorneys to collect debts.

 Veillard is a resident of New York who became indebted to Nations Credit Commercial Corporation ("Nations") through the use of a credit card. Nations sent Veillard's debt to Bureau who in turn retained Mednick to collect the money. Mednick's office sent Veillard an unsigned collection letter, dated October 6, 1997, seeking to obtain payment owed to Nations. The letterhead used by the defendants was from "RICHARD M. MEDNICK AND ASSOCIATES", but did not explicitly state that Mednick and Associates is a law firm or that Mednick is an attorney. The body of the letter is reproduced below:

 
DEAR PATRICK VEILLARD:
 
Your seriously past-due account has been placed with us for collection.
 
Unless you notify this office within 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 30 days from receiving this notice, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgment or verification. If you request this office in writing within 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.
 
Your best interest will be served by resolving this matter as soon as possible as our client shows this obligation to be due immediately.
 
Yours truly,
 
J. Dancer
 
for Richard M. Mednick
 
Debt Collector
 
THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A DEBT. ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE.

 (Pl. Ex. A.) The Court must determine whether Mednick's letter violates the Act and, if so, whether Bureau is liable for any of these violations.

 Veillard asserts that Mednick and Bureau violated the FDCPA because the letter purports to emanate from Mednick, a lawyer who was not actually involved in handling the file, and the letter creates the false impression that Mednick was participating in the collection of the debt when in fact he was not. The letter does not expressly state that Mednick is an attorney, but Veillard contends that the letter conveys this impression because it is on letterhead generally reserved for the legal profession. According to Veillard, by using letterhead that suggests it is from a law firm, Mednick and Bureau are being deceptive, thereby violating the Act. Veillard also claims that the letter overshadows and contradicts the validation notice requirement. Specifically, the statement "Your best interest will be ...


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