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Strauss Factor Obtains Summary Judgment on Fair Debt Claims Against Client

On April 27, 2015, the First Circuit issued an unpublished Judgment affirming the dismissal of claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") against our client, Twin Oaks Software Development, Inc. On May 30, 2014, the district court had adopted Magistrate Sullivan's Report and Recommendation that Twin Oaks' summary judgment motion be granted. Laccinole v. Twin Oaks Software Development, Inc., No. CA 13-716 ML, 2014 WL 2440400 (D.R.I. May 30, 2014). Plaintiff Christopher Laccinole, who has filed numerous FDCPA claims in federal and state court, joined a fitness club in 2008. Twin Oaks serviced the fitness club's membership accounts from the time new members joined, including sending of late letters for monthly dues. In 2013, Plaintiff's credit card company declined to make a dues payment. Twin Oaks sent Plaintiff two "Friendly Reminder" letters. Plaintiff sent a "validation" letter and then sent a second letter threatening suit if Twin Oaks did not settle his claims against it for alleged FDCPA and state law violations. Twin Oaks did not respond, in part because the fitness club reported the dues had been paid.

Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Twin Oaks was a debt collector and that it had violated the FDCPA, the Rhode Island Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("RIFDCPA"), and the Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("RIDTPA"), by not registering with the State of Rhode Island as a debt collector, among other alleged violations. Strauss Factor moved to dismiss the claims on the ground that Twin Oaks was not a debt collector under FDCPA or RIFDCPA and that Twin Oaks had done nothing deceptive under RIDTPA. With the agreement of the parties, the court converted the motion to dismiss to a summary judgment motion. Both the FDCPA an RIFDCPA exclude from the definition of debt collector a person who attempts to collect a debt that was not in default at the time it was obtained by such persons. 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6)(F)(iii). The district court said because Twin Oaks began servicing the debt over four years before it went into default it was not a debt collector. With respect to the RIDTPA claim, the court found that plaintiff had not provide proof either that Twin Oaks had done anything deceptive or that he had any damages. Accordingly, all his claims were dismissed.

Laccinole v. Twin Oaks Software Development, Inc., No. CA 13-716 ML, 2014 WL 2440400 (D.R.I. May 30, 2014)

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