New York City Bar Association Urges SupportFor Consumer Credit Fairness Act

Monday, July 5, 2010 - 01:00

On June 18, 2010, the New York City Bar Association wrote to New York State Senators urging them to support the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, which has passed in the Assembly and is currently being considered by the Senate's Rules Committee. The letter, signed by Janet Ray Kalson and Anahid M. Ugurlayan, chairs of the City Bar's Civil Court and Consumer Affairs Committees respectively, reads as follows:

"We are writing to you on behalf of the Civil Court and Consumer Affairs Committees of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (the "Association") to urge you to support the Consumer Credit Fairness Act (CCFA) so that this important bill may reach the Senate floor for a vote.

"The CCFA is critical to stemming the tide of abusive debt collection lawsuits that continue to cause economic and emotional injury to thousands of New Yorkers and unduly burden our court system. The bill will go a long way towards a commonsense goal that all New Yorkers deserve: making sure that people who get sued by debt collectors and debt buyers (1) know they have been sued, (2) know why they have been sued, and (3) have a full and fair opportunity to respond. While a worthwhile goal in all litigation, this is particularly important in these cases because the vast majority of defendants are unrepresented and, ultimately, the subject of default judgments.

"Opposition to the bill focuses on a decreased statute of limitations and the purported increased burden of enhanced pleading requirements. As to the former, on April 29, 2010, the Court of Appeals confirmed that a three-year statute of limitations applies to many of the debt collection lawsuits filed in New York courts (see Portfolio Recovery Associates v. King, 14 N.Y.3d 410, 2010 WL 1704730 ). As to the latter, it is our view that the pleading requirements are not unduly burdensome and, in fact, are necessary to fill gaps in the law which have been exploited by debt collector-plaintiffs. We are not the only ones to see this: judges are speaking out, legislators have taken notice and introduced corrective legislation, and the Attorney General has filed lawsuits.

"The CCFA deserves a full and public airing in Albany. Please help us start this process by supporting the legislation in the Rules Committee. Thank you for your consideration."