Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant in FDCPA Case Over New Creditor Name in Letter

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by improperly identifying the name of a creditor in a collection letter, after the creditor had re-branded itself.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Miller v. Southwest Credit Systems can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter in regards to an unpaid debt related to a home security system. The security service was provided by a company named Platinum Protection, L.L.C. The contract signed by the plaintiff allowed for Platinum to assign the agreement to a subcontractor without providing notice to the plaintiff. The agreement was subsequently assigned to a company called Monitronics. In 2014, the plaintiff canceled the service. In 2016, Monitronics rebranded itself as MONI. In 2017, MONI placed the plaintiff’s account with the defendant for collection. The defendant sent a collection letter, identifying MONI as the creditor to whom the debt was owed.

The plaintiff never made a payment on the debt and never contacted the defendant to seek additional information about it.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant filed motions for summary judgment. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, ruled that the letter was not confusing, but that the plaintiff did not provide any outside evidence — beyond her subjective confusion — to show that the letter increased the level of confusion for a significant fraction of the population.

“The question for purposes of the FDCPA is not whether Miller was actually confused by SWC’s letter, but whether an unsophisticated consumer receiving a debt collection letter identifying a single business entity as the creditor would be confused about who she needed to pay,” Judge Pallmeyer wrote. “Miller’s claimed subjective confusion stemming from her unique account history with Platinum and Monitronics does not make SWC’s identification of MONI as the creditor inaccurate or unclear to the unsophisticated consumer.”

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