Bitticks, on behalf of herself and a proposed class, asserted that Liberty violated the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., by routinely capping the amount of damages it was claiming so as to file its debt collection lawsuits in the County Courts for the State of Colorado, even though the actual uncapped amounts owed were more than the $15,000 jurisdictional limit.
Bitticks contended this amounted to an unfair debt collection practice, on the theory that she was denied the more elaborate discovery procedures available in the state's district courts, which are courts of general jurisdiction.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe stated that, "Liberty's business decision to forego a portion of its claim against Bitticks in order to proceed in County Court is not an unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect a debt."
Magistrate Judge Watanabe issued a detailed opinion recommending dismissal of the FDCPA claim as originally pleaded and also recommended denial of the motion to amend the complaint to assert new theories and putative classes.
"Liberty defended this lawsuit vigorously with top-notch class action defense counsel because it is important to us to stop the tide of frivolous lawsuits being lodged against the debt collection industry of late by aggressive plaintiffs' lawyers," said Rob Busch, chief legal officer of Liberty. "We are thrilled with the result."
The Faegre Baker Daniels litigation team included partners Dan Williams and Heather Perkins, associate Ryan Milligan and counsel Jennifer Sullivan.