The complaint for this class action brings suit under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Wisconsin Consumer Act (WCA), for debt collection letters to the two plaintiffs in this case that the complaint alleges were misleading and deceptive. One concerns a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy; the other concerns a misleading statement about the “Last Activity Date.”
On January 5, 2017, Guardian filed a small claims action against Aaron Asselin. Shortly thereafter, Asselin filed for bankruptcy, but Guardian did not dismiss the suit and was granted a default judgment of $5,511.23.
On May 18, 2017, Asselin’s debts were discharged in bankruptcy. However, Guardian seems to have transferred the small claims judgment to BCG anyway. BCG buys consumer debts and seeks to collect them, the complaint says, through third-party collectors like Dobberstein.
On or about January 26, 2018, Dobberstein mailed Asselin a letter (Exhibit D) attempting to collect on the Guardian/BCG debt. The complaint alleges that its first violation is Dobberstein’s attempt to collect a debt that Asselin does not owe.
Then, the complaint says, the amount quoted in the letter, $5,952.78, is greater than the amount the small claims court awarded to Guardian. The complaint alleges that this is because of post-judgment interest, but the letter does not state that the debt is accruing interest, which would be its second violation of the law.
The complaint makes claims against Dobberstein for its letter to the second plaintiff, Troy Norton, as well. The letter (Exhibit E) concerned a debt Norton allegedly incurred with Mariner Finance, LLC, which Norton supposedly used to buy a car, to be used for personal, family, or household purposes.
The letter, sent on or about January 19, 2018, says that the “Last Activity Date” was September 30, 2017. That designation normally means the last date on which a payment was made, the complaint claims, but Norton did not make a payment on that date. Under Wisconsin law, payments restart the statute of limitations. Thus, the complaint says, it misleads Norton about the period of time he can be sued for the debt.
Two classes have been proposed for this action, represented by the two plaintiffs.
- Class I is (a) all natural persons in Wisconsin (b) who were sent a collection letter in the form of Exhibit D in this case, (c) between January 2, 2018 and January 2, 2019, (d) seeking to collect a debt, or a judgment on a debt, that was incurred for personal, family, or household purposes, and (e) seeking to collect a debt that had been discharged in bankruptcy, and (f) the letter was not returned by the postal service.
- Class II is similar, except that the letter referred to is Exhibit E. Unfortunately, certain others of its terms are not clear. See page 22 of the complaint for details.