Question: Until 2002 the City of Bethlehem contractually retained the private
Until 2002, the City of Bethlehem contractually retained the private law firm of Portnoff Law Associates, Ltd. (PLA) to collect payment for overdue water and sewer obligations. The city notified PLA of delinquent water and sewer assessments, and PLA then contacted homeowners in attempts to collect on those claims. On February 20, 2002, the city notified PLA of a delinquent water service obligation of Bridget and Michael Piper in the amount of $252.71. PLA sent numerous letters, some on its letterhead and some on the city's letterhead, as well as made a number of telephone calls to the Piper residence in an effort to secure payment of the delinquent water service fees. PLA has never disputed that the letters it sent to the Pipers failed to include the debt verification language required by Section 1692(g) of FDCPA. PLA has likewise never disputed that its letters did not state they were sent by a debt collector, the debt collector was attempting to collect a debt, and any information obtained by PLA would be used for that purpose, as required by Section 1692(e)(11) of FDCPA. Bridget Piper filed suit against PLA and two of its attorneys in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The complaint alleged that PLA's attempts to collect payment of water and sewer bills owed to the city violated FDCPA. The complaint alleged that PLA violated this statute by failing to include statutory disclosures required for communications sent to consumers, by falsely representing or implying that the letters were from an attorney, and by collecting and attempting to collect fees not permitted by the agreement creating the debt or by law. Were the Pipers successful in their suit against PLA? Why?
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