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Odi v. Asset Acceptance LLC

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 2, 2013

EMMANUEL ODI, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ASSET ACCEPTANCE LLC, Defendant-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 20, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Essex County, Docket No. 0096-12.

Emmanuel Odi, appellant pro se.

Fulton, Friedman & Guillace, LLP, attorneys for respondent (Leonard H. Franco, on the brief).

Before Judges Fuentes and Fasciale.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiff appeals from a January 31, 2012 order entered after a small-claims bench trial dismissing his complaint against defendant alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1692 to -1692p, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1681 to -1681x, [1] and defamation. We affirm.

Defendant notified plaintiff of a debt, which plaintiff disputed. Thereafter, plaintiff requested validation of the debt from defendant. Plaintiff then unsuccessfully applied for credit and obtained a credit report which listed the debt to defendant. Plaintiff requested that defendant remove the debt from his credit report if defendant did not provide verification of the debt within thirty days.

Defendant provided to plaintiff a First USA Data Entry Application, an Avon account summary, and a Chase account summary. Defendant indicated to plaintiff that "we are presently unable to determine the nature of your dispute." Defendant notified plaintiff that it would report the account as disputed, requested an explanation of why plaintiff believed the information was inaccurate, and enclosed a one-page "debt validation" sheet. The "debt validation" sheet listed the account number, prior creditor, prior account number, balance, principal, interest, fees, plaintiff's address, the last four digits of plaintiff's social security number, and a contact number for defendant.

Judge Ned Rosenberg conducted the bench trial and found that (1) plaintiff placed defendant on notice of his dispute as required by the FDCPA; (2) defendant had no pending lawsuits against plaintiff for collection of the debt; (3) the "debt validation" sheet constituted validation of the debt; and (4) plaintiff did not sustain damages. The judge entered a judgment for defendant and dismissed the complaint.

On appeal, plaintiff argues primarily that the judge erred by finding defendant validated the debt and plaintiff failed to show damages. Plaintiff contends that the judge should have found that the debt was invalid, and he contends that the judge was biased. After a thorough review of the record and consideration of the controlling legal principles, we conclude that plaintiff's arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We add the following comments.

A trial court's factual findings "are considered binding on appeal when supported by adequate, substantial and credible evidence." Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974). We have no reason to disturb Judge Rosenberg's findings of fact.

The FCRA provides for validation of debts, 15 U.S.C.A. ยง 1692g, including notice of debt and verification of a disputed debt. ...


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