Gordon v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Consumer Credit
  • Date Filed: 03-09-2016
  • Case #: A154184
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Hadlock, C.J.

A permanent injunction preventing the Department of Justice from taking action under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act after an investigation provides probable cause for such action is improper where the investigated party uses deceptive practices and incorrect information to collect from debtors.

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) appealed a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction issued by the trial court in favor of Plaintiff Gordon and his law firm (“Plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs’ business involves recovering debts for creditors, primarily for debtors’ default on credit card debt. After receiving complaints about Plaintiffs’ debt collection practices for over a decade, the DOJ served a civil investigative demand on Plaintiffs to determine whether the collection practices violated the Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) and Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act (UDCPA). The investigation gave the DOJ reason to believe that Plaintiffs were taking advantage of debtors’ “legal ignorance, lack of resources, and general belief that they could not fight” the Plaintiffs claims against them. The DOJ served a “Proposed Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” (“AVC”) on Plaintiffs, seeking that the Plaintiffs would voluntarily refrain from continuing the debt collection practices; Plaintiffs did not sign the AVC, and instead sought to permanently enjoin the DOJ from further action, and sought declaratory judgment that the Plaintiffs’ practices did not violate the UTPA or UDCPA. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, and issued a declaratory judgment. On appeal, the DOJ argued that the debt collection practices violated the UTPA and UDCPA, and therefore a permanent injunction and declaratory judgment was improper. The Court agreed that Plaintiffs’ debt collection practices violated the UTPA, but disagreed that such practices violated the UDCPA—concurrently, because summary judgment was improper on against the DOJ’s pursuit of its action under the UTPA, the permanent injunction was improper. The trial court’s summary judgment for the UDCPA claims was affirmed; the declaratory judgment and judgment on the UTPA claims was reversed.

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