A District Court judge has partially granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant that was accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by contacting the plaintiff on his cell phone without his consent and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using profane language and threatening to sue to collect on the unpaid debt when it might not have been planning to do so.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Oatman v. Augusta Collection Agency can be accessed by clicking here.
The judge made short work of the TCPA claim, granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment because when the two parties spoke for the first time — on a call initiated by the plaintiff — the plaintiff provided his cell phone number to the defendant, and when the plaintiff revoked consent to be contacted, the defendant did so. The only times the two parties spoke after consent was revoked was when the plaintiff called the defendant.
On the FDCPA claims, however, the result was not as cut-and-dried.
The plaintiff claimed the defendant violated Section 1692c by communicating with the plaintiff’s employer in an attempt to garnish his wages, which was outside the scope of the consent provided by the plaintiff. This issue of material fact was enough for the judge to deny the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on this count.
Next, the plaintiff also claimed the defendant violated Section 1692d of the FDCPA by using profane language during the call. Without repeating what was said, the language used by the defendant did not rise to the level of an FDCPA violation, the judge ruled. But a threat of garnishment that was made by the plaintiff to the defendant is something a jury needs to determine, the judge said.
The plaintiff’s final claim was a violation of Section 1692e for threatening to garnish his wages, and the judge again ruled that a genuine dispute existed about whether the defendant was going to follow through on what it said it would do and denied the motion for summary judgment.