Cavalry SPV I, LLC v. WatkinsAnnotate this Case
Sue Watkins defaulted on a credit card she opened through Citibank. Citibank charged off the debt, eventually selling the account to a third party debt collection agency, Cavalry SPV I, LLC (Cavalry). Cavalry added prejudgment interest from the date of charge-off and attempted to collect the debt through an associated entity, Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC (CPS). As part of its collection efforts, CPS reported the debt with the additional interest included to several credit reporting agencies. Watkins disputed the debt and did not pay it, Cavalry sued to collect, and Watkins filed a cross-complaint alleging violations of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other associated statutes governing debt collection practices. The superior court conducted a bench trial, rejected the claims in Watkins's cross-complaint, and entered a judgment in favor of Cavalry in the amount of the original debt, plus attorney fees. After the parties submitted additional briefing regarding the fees, the court awarded approximately one-half of the amount Cavalry requested. On appeal, Watkins argued the superior court erred: (1) by finding her liable for the original debt; (2) denying the claims in her cross-complaint; and (3) awarding Cavalry attorney fees. In their cross-appeal, Cavalry and CPS contended the superior court erred by reducing the attorney fees award. The Court of Appeal concluded the superior court correctly determined that Watkins was liable for the original debt, but relied on an inaccurate interpretation of Civil Code. section 3289 (b) to support the accrual of statutory prejudgment interest. The superior court's denial of the counterclaims was nevertheless proper as Cavalry could have accrued such interest pursuant to section 3289 (a). Finally, the Court determined the superior court erred by awarding Cavalry and CPS attorney fees related to the defense of counterclaims. The Court therefore reversed judgment as to the fees and remanded the case to the superior court for further proceedings.