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WITHERS v. EQUIFAX RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES
March 3, 1999
GWENDOLYN J. WITHERS AND SAVA GRUJICH, PLAINTIFFS,
EQUIFAX RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES, A DIVISION OF EQUIFAX CREDIT INFORMATION SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Castillo, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs filed this putative class action against Defendants
for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. Plaintiffs allege that
Equifax Risk Management Services ("Equifax") mailed Plaintiffs
deceptive collection letters that overshadowed their rights under
the FDCPA. Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for
partial summary judgment on liability issues. For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiffs' motion is granted.
The genesis of this dispute can be traced to two letters that
Equifax mailed to Plaintiffs. On April 6, 1998, Equifax sent
plaintiff Sava Grujich the following notice:
AS INDICATED ABOVE, YOU HAVE FAILED TO REMIT THE FULL
SERVICE CHARGE DUE ON YOUR ACCOUNT DESPITE A PREVIOUS
TO ENSURE THAT YOUR OBLIGATION IS POSTED AS `PAID IN
FULL,' AND TO CLEAR THIS ITEM FROM OUR COMPUTER
FILES, PLEASE REMIT THE REMAINING AMOUNT DUE WITH THE
BOTTOM PORTION OF THIS LETTER IN THE ENCLOSED REPLY
EQUIFAX . . . THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR ATTENTION
TO THIS AND YOUR CONTINUED PATRONAGE AT SERVICE
Upon Victoria's Secret's request, Equifax mailed Gwendolyn
Withers the following dunning letter on April 21, 1998:
Your check . . . was returned by your bank unpaid
because of NON-SUFFICIENT FUNDS. Additionally, you
have incurred a $25.00 service charge which our
client imposes for returned checks. This balance of
$76.72 which you owe has now been assigned to EQUIFAX
. . . FOR COLLECTION.
This information has also been reported to Equifax
Check Services whose check authorization and
verification services are widely used by banks and
business establishments nationally as a basis for
EQUIFAX . . . urges you to promptly respond to this
notice. IF THE BANK RETURN CODE ALLOWS, YOUR CHECK
WILL BE REPRESENTED TO YOUR BANK. If the above
information concerning this check is incorrect,
please advise us so that we may correct our records
and resolve this matter.
THIS WILL BE CLEARED FROM OUR COMPUTER FILE WHEN IT
IS PAID. IF YOU PAY BY DIRECT MAIL, CHECK WITH YOUR
BANK BEFORE SENDING A CERTIFIED CHECK FOR THE FULL
AMOUNT OF $76.72 TOGETHER WITH THE BOTTOM PORTION OF
THIS LETTER TO EQUIFAX . . . WHOSE ADDRESS APPEARS
On the back of both letters, Equifax posted what is commonly
referred to as the "validation notice" required by the FDCPA, as
well as certain disclosures ...
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