9/14/14 Update: In April of this year the Park Atlanta/PAM case was settled prior to trial by mutual agreement of the parties. The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential. However, since the claims were never certified as a class, the only claims that were resolved were Mr. Grumet’s individual claims. As such, nothing prevents Mr. Grumet from acting as counsel on behalf of one or more individuals based on similar (or other) claims, and he still wishes to hear from anyone who believes that these entities may have engaged in unlawful/tortious conduct.
11/12/13 Update: As of November 12, 2013, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is still pending before the Court and there are not yet any new developments in the case.
10/23/13 Update: On October 23, 2013 Atlanta Mayor Reed announced the City may not renew its contract with Park Atlanta. Click here for full news article.
On May 22, 2013 Defendants Park Atlanta/PAM filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s putative class action Complaint asserting a variety of arguments why the case should be dismissed (the Motion can be found here). There are two primary arguments (addressing Plaintiff’s two primary claims). First, Defendants contend that the collection efforts at the heart of the Complaint did not involve a consumer “debt”, as that term is defined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), because, among other reasons, courts in other cases [with different facts] have concluded (for no good reason in particular) that certain vehicle related fines levied by a municipality, such as the City of Atlanta in this case, are not the result of “voluntary” transactions. Thus, Defendants aver, the collection efforts by PAM are not subject to the protections otherwise available to consumers by virtue of the FDCPA.
In addition, Defendants [disingenuously] argue that Plaintiff’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claim(s) “fails to state a claim” under the applicable rules of pleading. More specifically, Defendants allege that the Complaint “does not plead facts demonstrating that Defendants either (a) received written notice of such dispute from one or more CRAs or (b) failed to investigate or respond promptly to any such notice. The Complaint thus fails to sufficiently allege the elements of a violation of §1681s-2(b).” MTD at 13. This argument is absurd and wholly without any merit whatsoever.
As demonstrated in Plaintiff’s Response Brief in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, filed on June 19, 2013 (found here), we believe that neither of Defendants’ two main arguments is persuasive or supported by applicable law – particularly the latter, which is utterly misplaced and erroneous. The Response Brief speaks best for itself, but in sum, Plaintiff believes that the transaction at issue was indeed voluntary and did give rise to an alleged debt subject to FDCPA coverage. Moreover, even if it might otherwise be exempt, standing alone, Defendants have made numerous admissions against their interest on the issue – e.g. referring to PAM as a debt collector and citing the FDCPA – and thus, in addition to other facts, the FDCPA does apply. And as for the FCRA, the same arguments proffered by Defendants here have already been rejected by a recent opinion from this District in another case in which Mr. Grumet was counsel for the Plaintiff: Stroman v. Bank of America Corp. et al., 852 F.Supp.2d 1366 (2012).
In any event, for those of you who have an interest in this case and have contacted the firm or wish to do so, please be aware that until the Court rules on these issues – and certifies the case as a class action – it would not be practical to attempt to add any other putative class members/plaintiffs to the action. Defendants have not yet filed their Reply Brief – which is due in a few weeks – and it could be many months before a final ruling is issued. If and when the Motion to Dismiss is denied as we expect [in whole or part], then we may seek certification of the class and additional putative class members. We definitely appreciate the interest that has been expressed by the public in the case and we are very hopeful that the Court will ultimately reject Defendants’ contentions in full and allow the case to proceed on a class-wide basis.
In the meantime, please feel free to email Mr. Grumet about the litigation – he is particularly interested in hearing from individuals who have experienced similar collection efforts to those described in the Complaint and reflected in the exhibits thereto. As such, he strongly encourages interested persons to read the Complaint [and Response Brief] carefully before reaching out. For it must be remembered that in order for one to become a class member, his or her situation must involve facts substantially similar to those described in the Complaint. Otherwise, the Court will likely reject the putative class member on the basis of a lack of similarity pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (among other laws).
As always, nothing herein is intended to be or should be construed as legal advice.
On April 26, 2013 Mr. Grumet was interviewed by CBS Atlanta News (46) about the putative class action lawsuit he filed in March in federal court (NDGA) against Park Atlanta (a/k/a ParkAtlanta) and Professional Account Management. The lawsuit alleges violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act. It also seeks injunctive relief. Mr. Grumet is seeking additional class members for the suit. Please review the Complaint posted here for more details to determine if your experiences are similar to those cited therein.
If you are on a mobile browser, click here for the video.
This is a very important win for consumers everywhere. Among other things, the Court - Judge Amy Totenberg, District Court for the Northern District of Georgia - held that despite BOA's attempts to have Plaintiff's case dismissed at the Motion to Dismiss stage, Plaintiff's claims for BOA's violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA") - in particular, as related to Plaintiff's Qualified Written Requests under 2105 - the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the GA Fair Lending Act, the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act, Breach of Contract, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Conversion, Unjust Enrichment, among other claims, were all viable claims that were sufficiently pled to withstand BOA's Motion. All of these claims arose in conjunction with Plaintiff's attempts to modify her home mortgage loan under the HAMP program.
Read the full order on motion to dismiss Stroman v. BOA, Equifax, Experian & TransUnion
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