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Brandon v. Eaton Group Attorneys, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 24, 2017

CASSANDRA BRANDON
v.
EATON GROUP ATTORNEYS, LLC

         SECTION “R” (1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SARAH S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Dr. Cassandra Brandon sued Eaton Group Attorneys, LLC, alleging that a debt collection letter sent by Eaton Group violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act, LA. Rev. Stat. § 51:1401-18. Eaton Group moves for summary judgment, and argues that its letter offends neither statute as a matter of law. For the following reasons, the Court denies Eaton Group's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 6, 2016, Eaton Group Attorneys, LLC, as the representative of National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-1, filed a petition against Dr. Brandon in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson.[1] In its petition, the Student Loan Trust alleged that Dr. Brandon had defaulted on a debt, and sought $41, 115.13, plus accrued interest of $4, 998.37, additional interest at the rate of 4% from the date of judgment, and costs.[2]On or around June 3, 2016, Dr. Brandon received a letter from Eaton Group concerning the lawsuit and her alleged debt.[3] The subject line of the letter described it as a “REQUEST FOR PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS.”[4]The letter stated:

Dear CASSANDRA PLUMMER:[5]
If you would like to explore a voluntary repayment plan, then please provide the requested information. The debt will need to be acknowledged through the attached consent judgment. Please return these forms as soon as possible. This is a communication from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
Teressa Cooper Legal Assistant[6]

         The letter also included a form for Dr. Brandon to provide information- including address, social security number, and employer's contact information-for both Dr. Brandon and her spouse.[7]

         Attached to the letter was a partially completed consent judgment[8] and a copy of the petition in the Jefferson Parish case.[9] The consent judgment stated:

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that judgment be rendered in favor of the Plaintiff, NATIONAL COLLEGIATE LOAN TRUST 2007-1, and against the defendant, CASSANDRA PLUMMER (SSN []), in the full sum of $41, 115.13, together with accrued interest of $4, 998.37, and additional interest of 4% from date of judgment, and for all costs of these proceedings, subject to a credit of $.00.[10]

         The consent judgment had already been signed by a representative of the Eaton Group.[11]

         In her complaint, Dr. Brandon alleges that this letter “was deceptive and misleading as it attempted to trick [her] into signing a consent judgment by promising a voluntary repayment plan.”[12] She brings claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act (LUTPA), LA. Rev. Stat. § 51:1401-18. The Eaton Group now moves for summary judgment, arguing that the letter it sent to Dr. Brandon was non-deceitful as a matter of law.

         II. ...


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