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Debtor Wins Fees in FDCPA Suit

Deborah Elkins//July 27, 2015

Debtor Wins Fees in FDCPA Suit

Deborah Elkins//July 27, 2015

A plaintiff wins default judgment in her suit alleging defendant collection agency repeatedly called her at work and “occasionally screamed” at her in attempting to collect on a consumer debt, even after being informed that she had a lawyer; the Richmond U.S. District Court awards plaintiff $1,000 in statutory damages under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as well as $4,022.45 in attorney’s fees and costs.

Plaintiff sufficiently alleges all the elements needed to satisfy an FDCPA claim against defendant. She alleges that in November 2012 defendants began contacting her at her work number in an attempt to collect a consumer debt she allegedly owed. She alleged defendant Accredited Collection Agency Inc., a New Jersey corporation, used the telephone to engage in debt collection and that defendant regularly operates as a third-party debt collector as defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1692a. Plaintiff alleges five violations of the FDCPA: continued collection calls to plaintiff after having actual knowledge that she was represented by counsel and receiving the means to contact her counsel; failure to disclose that their communications were from a debt collector and were made in an attempt to collect a debt; calling her at her place of employment and “occasionally screaming at her” in their efforts to extract payment; continuing to contact her at work after being advised of the prohibition; and attempting to collect “fees” that were not expressly authorized or otherwise permitted by law.

Plaintiff also has satisfied the procedural requirements for the entry of default judgment.

The court will award statutory damages as contemplated by 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a) of $1,000, as well as attorney’s fees. Plaintiff seeks $3,962.50 in attorney’s fees and $59.95 in costs. Plaintiff’s lawyer’s hourly rate is $300 and the paralegal/staff rate is $50. Plaintiff’s lawyer spent 11.45 hours on the case, for a total of $3,435. The paralegal spent 8.55 hours on the case. Plaintiff’s counsel submits the hourly rate is reasonable in light of the data collected from the 2007 National Law Journal billing survey, which revealed that the average median billing rate for a partner in the Richmond, Virginia area is $300 per hour. Plaintiff’s counsel also submits that he has previously been awarded attorney’s fees based on a billing rate of $300 per hour in cases very similar to the instant case. Declarations also were submitted by both lawyers in support of their request.

Dryden v. Accredited Collection Agency Inc. (Spencer) No. 3:14cv255, June 10, 2015; USDC at Richmond, Va. VLW 015-3-291, 12 pp.

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