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My Complaint (to be filed in state court this week) against

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Plan to file this week. Still tweaking, but thought I'd share. I had to use cut and paste (no attaching of docs on this forum) so formatting is a bit off.



(Civil Division)


[TAB]Plaintiff _______ hereby files this Complaint against Defendant Valley Credit Service, Incorporated (“Valley Credit”) for statutory, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as fees and costs, for illegal activities of Defendant pursuant to the attempted collection of an alleged debt. In support of this Complaint, Plaintiff states as follows:

The Parties

[TAB]1. Plaintiff ______ is an individual who resides in the District of Columbia at _____.

[TAB]2. Defendant Valley Credit Services is a collection agency registered as a corporation in the State of Maryland, and is located at 12907 Oak Hill Drive, Hagerstown, Maryland 21742-2912.

Jurisdiction and Venue

[TAB]3. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to D.C. Code § 11-921.

[TAB]4. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant Valley Credit pursuant to D.C. Code § 13-423 (a)(1), a(3), a(4) and a(6).

Factual Allegations

[TAB]5. In September of 2001, Plaintiff signed a contract in Washington, D.C. with Crystal Springs, a water delivery service, for the delivery of bottled spring water at his apartment, located at ______ in the District of Columbia.

[TAB]6. Crystal Springs failed to perform its duties under the water delivery contract in various ways, and Plaintiff ended his relationship with Crystal Springs believing that he owed no further duties to Crystal Springs under the contract.

[TAB]7. On April 30, 2002, Defendant sent Plaintiff a “formal demand for payment in full” on his Crystal Springs account. Defendant purported to be authorized to collect the alleged debt on behalf of Crystal Springs.

[TAB]8. Included in the collection letter sent by Defendant on April 30, 2002, was the request that Plaintiff pay two illegal fees. First, the Defendant asserted that it (or its alleged client, Crystal Springs) was owed $103 for a “collection fee.” Such fee was prohibited under D.C. Code § 28-3814 (g) (3) and (g) (4) as well as § 808 (1) of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. (“FDCPA”). Second, and also prohibited under the previously mentioned statutes, Defendant claimed that Plaintiff owed a $175 fee for the water dispensing unit, notwithstanding Plaintiff’s offer to return the unit to Crystal Springs immediately.

[TAB]9. Consistent with § 809(B) of the FDCPA, Plaintiff sent Defendant a letter on May 6, 2002, stating in bold that he “dispute[d] this debt in full” and requesting various information that a collection agency is obliged to provide under the FDCPA, such as “[a]ny agreement that bears my signature wherein I agreed to pay the [original] creditor,” “[a]ny judgments [that might have] been obtained by any creditor regarding this account, “[any] [a]greement with your client that grants you the authority to collect on this alleged debt,” and “[a]ny other documentation that tends to show this debt is valid.”

[TAB]10. Plaintiff also stated in boldface that he was moving on May 15, 2002 (9 days after sending the letter) and clearly provided his new address.

[TAB]11. On August 28, 2002, Defendant called Plaintiff at home and left a message that did not identify itself, merely leaving a return phone number in Hagerstown, Maryland, area code 301, which is a long distance telephone call from Washington, D.C. This communication violated D.C. Code § 28-3814 (d)(2) and (d)(3) because the caller did not identify her purpose and caused Plaintiff to incur long distance charges. This call also violated the following sections of the FDCPA: § 805© (communication with debtor when on notice of dispute that had not been properly validated), § 806(6) (“placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity”), and § 808 (5) (causing debtor to incur telephone charges).

[TAB]12. On August 29, 2002, Plaintiff (still unaware of who had called him the previous day) returned the phone call and was told that Defendant had validated debt, notwithstanding the fact that Plaintiff never received such validation. Defendant claimed to have sent proper validation to Plaintiff’s old address. Plaintiff politely asked that such validation be resent to his present address, and explained that he had provided a new address, but Defendant refused. Defendant’s agent, a woman identified as Ms. Smith, became hostile and rude and in doing so violated § 806 of the FDCPA. Plaintiff has repeatedly asked for a copy of the validation letter that Defendant claims to have sent on August 5, 2002, but Defendant has refused to provide it. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff believes that Defendant never sent any validation letter and committed fraud and misrepresentation in asserting that it had mailed a validation letter. Defendant’s conduct also violated D.C. Code § 28-3814(f).

[TAB]13. Even assuming Defendant did mail a validation letter on August 5, 2002, Defendant violated the FDCPA and § 623 of Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (“FCRA”), when it reported the alleged debt in July of 2002 to the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Defendant was under obligations of the FDCPA, FCRA and D.C. Code § 28-3814(e) to withhold any reporting of the alleged debt until after the debt had been validated, and even after validation, to report that Plaintiff disputed the alleged debt. Notwithstanding these clear obligations, Defendant illegally reported the debt prior to mailing any validation (even assuming validation was mailed on August 5, 2002), and failed to include notice that Plaintiff disputed the validity of the debt. Plaintiff became aware of Defendant’s violations when he viewed his September 11, 2002 credit report from Equifax, which states that Defendant reported the alleged debt to Equifax in July 2002. Defendant later represented to Plaintiff that it notified all three credit bureaus of the alleged debt at the same time, i.e., July 2002.

[TAB]14. On October 2, 2002, Defendant admitted (via telephone) that it had committed error in illegally reporting Plaintiff’s alleged debt. Defendant’s agent stated that she would notify the three credit bureaus that the entry should be removed. Defendant refused to provide any written confirmation that it agreed to resolve the matter. Defendant cited its policy of refusing to send (by email, facsimile, mail or any written form) any communication to an alleged debtor except a standard collection letter. Plaintiff remained unsatisfied that the problem was solved, and memorialized this conversation in a facsimile to Defendant that same day. The facsimile asks for Defendant to provide a statement (“short is fine”) that the alleged debt should not have been reported to any credit bureau. Plaintiff was extremely accommodating in this demand, asking Defendant to provide such short statement -- which Defendant admitted via telephone -- by facsimile, email or regular mail. Defendant refused to provide such a statement.

[TAB]15. Notwithstanding the Defendant’s telephone representations that it would attempt to cure its past error, Defendant continued to report the alleged debt to Transunion, one of the three major credit bureaus. Plaintiff learned in January of 2003 that the debt remained on his Transunion file. Plaintiff telephoned Defendant and again asked that Defendant provide a short notice that the debt was wrongfully reported. Plaintiff explained to Defendant that only with such a notice could Plaintiff have the entry removed within 24 hours, thus mitigating future damages from the false report. Plaintiff informed Defendant that he was refinancing and time was of the essence as far as clearing the illegal entry from his credit report. Defendant refused Plaintiff’s request to send him a statement, and asserted that all its obligations had been met because it had notified Transunion to remove the entry. Consistent with its earlier refusals to provide any written communication, Defendant refused to provide any proof whatsoever that it had indeed notified Transunion of its previous error.

[TAB]16. In January 2003, Plaintiff wished to take advantage of unusually low interest rates to refinance his condominium. Plaintiff has little equity in his condominium, thus his credit, as reported by the three major credit bureaus, was crucial to obtaining favorable financing. Every mortgage lender in the United States investigates credit reports before loaning money. On September 26, 2002, immediately before Defendant’s illegal actions, Plaintiff’s credit score with Transunion was 755. This credit score placed him in approximately the top 25% of households nationwide, with a delinquency rate of 2%. 755 is an excellent credit score and will ensure access to the most favorable financing terms and lowest interest rates. On January 24, 2003, following Defendant’s illegal reporting and continued failure to correct its error, Plaintiff’s credit score is 637. The sole reason for the Plaintiff’s low score is the entry from Valley Credit. This score is in the bottom 20% of households nationwide. As a result, Plaintiff has been forced to secure less favorable re-financing for condominium, valued at over $300,000, than he would be able to absent the Defendant’s illegal actions. Without the Defendant itself providing a letter to Plaintiff, it will take over a month for Transunion to investigate the entry from Valley Credit. At that time, interest rates may be significantly higher than they are now. Plaintiff, in reasonable mitigation of his damages, chose to lock in the best interest rate he could obtain in January 2003.

Count I

(Violation of FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.)

[TAB]17. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1-16 above.

[TAB]18. As a result of Defendant’s violation of the FDCPA, Plaintiff will be forced to refinance his condominium at a rate 0.375% per year higher than he would otherwise be able to. Plaintiff will suffer $993.75 of damages each year as a result of Defendant’s illegal actions. The interest rate is fixed during the first five years of Plaintiff’s new mortgage, and during that time he will suffer damages of $4968.75. The rate for the following 25 years is tied to original rate, and Plaintiff expects to suffer further damages of $24,843.75, for a total of $29,812.50.

[TAB]19. Under § 813 of the FDCPA, Plaintiff is also entitled to statutory damages of $1000 for each of Defendant’s violations of the FDCPA.

Count II

(Violation of D.C. Code § 28-3814)

[TAB]20. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1-19 above.

[TAB]21. Plaintiff suffered damages of at least $29,812.50 as a result of Defendant’s willful violation of the above section.

[TAB]22. Plaintiff has suffered other damages, such as fees for obtaining his credit report, long distance charges, mailing charges, as well as emotional distress and mental anguish in dealing with this situation and Defendant’s unreasonable practices.

[TAB]23. Plaintiff believes that Defendant’s willful violations of the above section merit an award of punitive damages in the amount of $50,000, or other relief as the Court may deem proper.

[TAB]WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for entry of judgment against Valley Credit for statutory, compensatory and punitive damages of $100,000, plus pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and such other relief as this Court may deem just and proper.

[TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB]Respectfully Submitted,


[TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB][TAB]_____________________________ (pro se)

Dated:[TAB] January __, 2003[TAB]

[Edit by masonuc on Sunday, January 26, 2003 @ 06:20 AM]

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