Commonwealth Financial v. Smith, Superior Court of PA (2011)

Lawrence S. Rubin

Case Conclusion Date:February 14, 2011

Practice Area:Debt Collection

Outcome:Game-changing caselaw made in favor of the consumer.

Description:2011 PA Super 30; 15 A.3d 492; 2011 Pa. Super. LEXIS 35. The consumer obtained a credit card and used it for 13 years. She accumulated a debt on the account. The debt buyer bought the debt and then filed suit against her, seeking the balance due as well as interest, attorney fees, and costs. The matter proceeded to arbitration. Although the consumer failed to appear, an award was entered in her favor. On appeal, the debt buyer provided records of the account and testimony from an officer responsible for overseeing the debt buyer's portfolio collection division. The trial court entered judgment for the consumer upon finding that there was inadequate authentication of computerized business records under Pa. R. Evid. 803(6), such that they were inadmissible. On appeal, the court declined to adopt the rule of incorporation, and it agreed that the trustworthiness requirements of Rule 803(6) and 42 Pa.C.S. § 6108 were not met. Further, the trial court properly determined that the debt buyer did not establish the existence of a contract. The denial of sanctions against the consumer due to her failure to appear at trial under Pa.R.C.P. No. 234.5 and 4019, which was properly preserved for review, was not an abuse of discretion where the debt buyer's notice to attend was not timely.

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