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Second Circuit Resolves Uncertainty Surrounding "Reverse Avila" Claims

The Court of Appeals seems to have halted much uncertainty surrounding "reverse Avila" claims by unanimously affirming the New York federal court's decision in Taylor v. Financial Recovery Services, Inc., No. 17-1650, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS ------- (2d Cir. March 29, 2018) (found here). In the wake of Avila v. Riexinger & Assocs., LLC, 817 F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 2016), savvy plaintiffs have argued that the failure to disclose that a debt is no longer accruing interest is false and misleading in violation of Section 1692e of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The Second Circuit disagreed and held that "a collection notice that fails to disclose that interest and fees are not currently accruing on a debt is not misleading " when the letter correctly states a consumer's balance when the letter was issued.

Distinguishing Avila, the Second Circuit explained that the collection letter in Avila was misleading because a consumer could pay the full amount listed on the letter but such payment would not settle the debt. Under the facts of Avila, a consumer who paid the amount due on the collection letter would still be on the hook for an unpaid balance because interest and fees "accumulated after the notice was sent but before the balance was paid." In Taylor, the creditor instructed the collector not to accrue interest or fees on the underlying debt. Thus, because a consumer could have satisfied their debt by "making reasonably prompt payment" of the balance stated on the collection letter, it was not misleading notwithstanding the creditor's right to accrue post-placement interest on that same debt. The Second Circuit noted that the worst "harm" to plaintiffs in Taylor would be to pay sooner rather than later in order to avoid interest or fees accruing, but acceleration of payment "falls short of the obvious dangers facing consumers in Avila." More ›

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