Richard Brent Somach and Rebecca J. Price, Members of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., along with David C. Berger, an Associate of the firm, presented “Understanding FDCPA and Changes to the Existing Code” for the Bar Association of Lehigh County on April 13.
“Our presentation was to educate attorneys on the most significant update of the FDCPA since it was passed in 1977, clarifying prohibitions on harassment and abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices by debt collectors when collecting consumer debt and how the new protections apply to modern communication formats, such as email, text messaging, and social media. Also included are new rules for consumer-oriented disclosures, the reporting of credit information to consumer reporting agencies, and bringing suit on time-barred debt,” said Somach.
Understanding the FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which provides debtors with a means for challenging payoff demands and determining the validity and accuracy of asserted debts, was enacted in 1978 and updated in October 2020. Somach, Price, and Berger addressed the updates, clarifying who is considered a “debt collector” under the FDCPA, what communications are covered, and what practices are prohibited. They also discussed liability for violating the FDCPA, defenses to those violations, and tips for lawyers to protect themselves. Participants commented that the presentation was useful and well-organized, and noted the presenters’ “excellent command of the topic.” The twenty attendees received two substantive CLE credits.
About the Presenters
Somach focuses his practice on real estate, commercial law, and creditors’ remedies, representing real estate development companies, shopping centers, and local banks.
In the banking area, Somach assists clients with their transactional, litigation, and operational needs, and handles collections, foreclosures, and complex commercial workouts. He has represented real estate owners, developers, and investors in a broad range of real estate transactions, including zoning matters, subdivisions, and shopping center development.
As a licensed title insurance agent, Somach is founder of the title insurance and settlement company ABE Settlement Services and serves as legal counsel to the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS®. He has formerly served as Assistant Lehigh County Solicitor, advising the Sheriff’s Office, the Tax Assessment Office, and the Tax Claim Bureau.
Active in many community organizations, Somach is a past president of the Salisbury Township School Board. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Bar Association of Lehigh County, where he served as President in 1992. Somach frequently writes and lectures on real estate matters, sheriff’s sales, and real estate tax sales. He received his B.A., with honors, in 1971 from Lehigh University, and his J.D. in 1974 from Hofstra University Law School.
Price represents clients in all the eastern counties of Pennsylvania, the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania, and the District of New Jersey. As a commercial litigator, she handles a wide range of lawsuits, including complex commercial business litigation, landlord/ tenant matters, and contract disputes.
Price represents local and out-of-state banks in bankruptcy, complex foreclosures, receiverships, and asset recovery matters, including negotiating a deed in lieu transfers and confession of judgment for ejectment and money proceedings. She has completed the necessary training to perform work for Fannie Mae. Price has also defended clients in actions to open or strike judgments entered by confession.
Often, Price is engaged as local counsel by attorneys in foreign districts. Understanding the dynamic role that local counsel plays in assisting the client of the referring firm, she has been successful in establishing many relationships with other firms. Price is active in the Bar Association of Lehigh County, serves as Conflict Counsel for Lehigh County’s Juvenile Dependency Court, and has recently been appointed as Solicitor of the Lehigh County Board of Tax Assessment Appeals.
Proficient in handling multifaceted commercial collection matters on behalf of local and out-of-state businesses, Price gives seminars to assist businesses in adopting practices best suited for collecting outstanding accounts receivable. She has ample experience litigating collection matters and executing upon judgments obtained on behalf of her clients. Price earned her J.D. in 2007 from William and Mary School of Law, and her B.A., summa cum laude, from Ohio State University in 2004.
Berger concentrates his practice on business, real estate, and liquor law. He counsels clients on general business topics including organization and formation, corporate governance, lease negotiations, restructurings, and finance.
A licensed title insurance agent, Berger works closely with lenders, real estate developers, and homebuilding companies. He handles both residential and commercial real estate development including acquisitions, land use and zoning matters, title review, and other due diligence requirements.
In his liquor law practice, Berger handles the sale and purchase of liquor licenses and provides transactional counseling, including defending licenses who have received citations from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. He frequently writes for the firm’s liquor law blog, “Legal Liquor.”
Berger is an active member of the Bar Association of Lehigh County. He received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 2011, and his B.B.A. from Temple University, The Fox School of Business, in 2008.