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Saroza v. Lyons, Doughty & Veldhuis, P.C.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

December 19, 2017

Nestor SAROZA, Plaintiff,
v.
LYONS, DOUGHTY & VELDHUIS, P.C., Defendant.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge.

         This case is about $82.00. That sum is the value of a court filing fee and a service fee connected to a credit card debt collection action. Plaintiff Nestor Saroza has sued Defendant, a law firm representing a client seeking to recover a debt, on the theory of a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. This matter comes before this Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Complaint, or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 7), and the Response (Doc. No. 9) and Reply (Doc. No. 12) thereto. Saroza brings this action as a member of a putative class under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. After converting the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment, we directed the parties to submit supplemental briefing on the matter.

         We are asked to determine whether the difference between the $9, 971.55 in a Superior Court Complaint and the $10, 053.55 in a letter sent to Saroza, or $82.00 in costs, violates the FDCPA. We hold that so long as the included costs are accurate, it does not. Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         I. THE FACTS

         Capital One Bank (USA), N.A. filed suit in the Superior Court of New Jersey against Saroza on January 19, 2016, seeking recovery of $9, 971.55 in credit card debt that Saroza had allegedly failed to pay. Capital One also sought costs in the complaint, but not attorneys' fees or interest. Counsel for Capital One, and Defendant in this action, paid $75.00 to file and $7.00 for service, a sum of $82.00. (Def. Br. Ex. 2.) The court-issued summons sought $9, 971.55 and made no mention of the filing fee or service fee, though it does say the action would be inclusive of court costs if Saroza failed to respond. (Compl. Ex. B.)

         Defendant sent a January 25, 2016 letter to Saroza after it filed, whose pertinent parts follow:

LYONS, DOUGHTY & VELDHUIS, P.C. . . .
Re: Capitol One Bank (USA), N.A. v. NESTOR SAROZA Docket No. DC-00065-16 Amount Due: $10, 053.55
Dear NESTOR SAROZA:
We have filed suit to recover the balance due in the above matter. However, our goal is to resolve the debt in a way that is manageable for you. We encourage you to contact us. If you would rather not call us, you can ask questions and/or make a settlement offer or payment arrangement proposal via our website: www.ldvlaw.com . . . .
THIS FIRM IS A DEBT COLLECTOR

(Compl. Ex. A.) It is Saroza's contention that this letter fails to state that the $82.00 is not part of the debt. But the Capital One Customer Agreement for the credit card does have that language, such as “[w]e may consider you in default of your Agreement with us if: (1) you do not make any payment when it is due.” (Def. Br. Ex. 3, Ex. A.) It also provides:

[I]f you are in default, we may take the following actions without notifying you, unless the law says that we must notify you:
. . . (6) pursue any other action against you that the law allows, which includes the filing of ...

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