LVNV Funding, L.L.C. v. Colvell, A-1313-10T3; Appellate Division; opinion by Koblitz, J.S.C., temporarily assigned; decided and approved for publication July 12, 2011. Before Judges Payne, Baxter and Koblitz. On appeal from the Law Division, Special Civil Part, Mercer County, DC-005585-10. [Sat below: Judge McManimon.] DDS No. 15-2-2862 [9 pp.]
Defendant appeals from an entry of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff LVNV Funding, L.L.C., a collection agency that was assigned a $12,060.75 balance defendant purportedly owed on her Citibank Sears Gold MasterCard.
LVNV, a credit agency, purchased a portfolio of debt from Citibank, which included defendant’s MasterCard account. All ownership rights of the account were assigned to LVNV, including the right to collect the balance owed, plus any interest accrued at the rate specified. In its complaint, LVNV alleged that defendant was indebted to LVNV for $12,060.75, including interest, service charges, costs and attorneys’ fees, which defendant had agreed to pay in her MasterCard agreement. LVNV claimed that demand for payment had “been made and gone without heed.”
Defendant denied all of LVNV’s allegations. LVNV sent defendant interrogatories. She responded to essentially every question by saying that she was “not aware of any written agreements or contracts with LVNV.” She also stated that she “did not receive billing statements from [p]laintiff,” and that she “made no agreements with [p]laintiff to resolve alleged indebtedness.” A trial date was set.
LVNV filed a motion for summary judgment, attaching a copy of a computer-generated report, which was intended to contain defendant’s personal information, balances, credits and payments made, current balance, finance charge rate and annual percentage rate. The information on this form was not complete as it did not list any transactions made by defendant or the billing cycle information, and it listed the annual percentage and finance charge rates as zero.
The trial court did not grant oral argument and granted summary judgment to LVNV; a judgment against defendant of $12,121.22 was also entered. The court denied defendant’s motion for reconsideration, stating in pertinent part that defendant never once denied having the MasterCard debt. After defendant appealed, the court issued a supplemental statement of reasons for granting summary judgment, repeating that defendant did not deny owing a debt on the MasterCard, and stating that evidence sufficient to enter default judgment under Rule 6:6-3 was presented by LVNV.
Held: When suing to collect the balance allegedly owed on an unpaid revolving credit-card account, the creditor must prove more than merely the total amount remaining unpaid. Instead, as required to obtain a default judgment by Rule 6:6-3(a), the creditor must set forth the previous balance, and identify all transactions and credits, as well as the periodic rates, the balance on which the finance charge is computed, other charges, if any, the closing date of the billing cycle, and the new balance.
Defendant argues that LVNV’s computer-generated report did not sufficiently meet the requirement set forth in Rule 6:6-3 governing default judgments because it does not contain any identification of transactions or credits in support of the balance listed. Rule 6:6-3(a) provides required forms of proof, consistent with federal regulations for credit-card account periodic billing statements. If plaintiff’s records are maintained electronically and the claim is founded on an open-end credit plan, a copy of the periodic statement for the last billing cycle, or a computer-generated report setting forth the previous balance, identification of transactions and credits, if any, periodic rates, balance on which the finance charge is computed, the amount of the finance charge, the annual percentage rate, other charges, if any, the closing date of the billing cycle, and the new balance, if attached to the affidavit, is sufficient to support the entry of judgment.
In support of its motion, LVNV submitted a certification of proof and ownership of defendant’s account, as well as a computer-generated report. The computer-generated statement contained defendant’s name, address, account number, previous balance and new balance. The statement does not comply with Rule 6:6-3(a) because it does not specify any transactions comprising the debt owed by defendant. The only transaction listed on the statement was LVNV’s purchase of the account. Further, the statement indicated that defendant did not have any credits and that the finance charge percentage rate, annual percentage rate and other fees were “zero.” Where the statement provided for the closing date of the billing cycle, it read, “Not Applicable.”
Although defendant does not allege that she did not use this card or hold this account, LVNV does not meet the requirements set forth in federal law and repeated in Rule 6:6­3(a). To collect on a revolving credit-card debt, LVNV is required to provide the transactions for which payment has not been made, any payments that have been made, the annual percentage and finance charge percentage rates and the billing cycle information. Here, LVNV did not provide any documentation regarding the original MasterCard transactions by defendant other than the account number and the alleged balance.
The appellate panel concludes that the proofs submitted by LVNV were insufficient to grant summary judgment. The panel also concludes that the trial court erred by failing to afford defendant the oral argument she requested.
— By Debra McLoughlin
Appellant Mary B. Colvell appeared pro se. For respondent — Eichenbaum & Stylianou (John Brigandi on the brief).