Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant in FDCPA Bona Fide Error Case Over Disputed Debt

A District Court judge in California has granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant that was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it allegedly did not mark an account as disputed, instead choosing the believe the policies and procedures put in place by the defendant entitled it to the bona fide error defense.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Williams v. Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff claims to have had her attorney mail a dispute letter to the defendant, which the defendant said it did not receive. The plaintiff then filed suit, alleging the defendant violated Section 1692e(8) of the FDCPA by not marking the account as disputed for the time between when the letter was allegedly sent and when the plaintiff initiated her suit against the defendant.

In defending itself, the defendant shared its policies and procedures for retrieving, processing, and recording all correspondence as well as noting that all policies and procedures “are memorialized in duplicative
written policies that were in effect at times relevant to this case.”

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant should not be entitled to the FDCPA’s bona fide error defense because it claims never to have received the letter in question. But Judge Haywood Gilliam of the District Court for the Northern District of California disagreed.

“…even assuming Plaintiff sent the Disputed Letter to ERC, the alleged FDCPA violation resulted either from an error with the post office, such that ERC never received the correspondence, or an ERC employee mishandling the letter at some point between retrieving the letter from the post office and the point at which employees review the letter. Either way, there is no evidence that such an error was intentional. Nor is there any indication that such a mistake—if attributable to ERC—would be anything other than a clerical mistake. Finally, as detailed in length above, ERC has adequately demonstrated that its redundant policies and procedures were reasonably adapted to avoid such mishandling of correspondence.”

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