Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant After Time-Zone Change Proves Dispute Was Not Faxed When Plaintiff Says It Was

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it did not mark an account as disputed after the plaintiff allegedly faxed her dispute during the validation period.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Lampert v. Weltman, Weinberg & Reis can be accessed by clicking here.

Having read a fair number of these rulings, it is always fascinating to see how these cases can turn on the most minute of facts. This case is no different. The plaintiff’s inability to correctly apply time zone changes to the time the dispute was allegedly faxed put a significant dent in her argument that she faxed the dispute when she said she did.

The plaintiff’s records indicated it received three faxes at 16:06 UTC on December 1, 2017. The plaintiff contends she sent her dispute at 11:04 am CST on December 1 and that the transmission took 91 seconds to complete. The defendant has no record of receiving the dispute via fax from the plaintiff.

The plaintiff argued that her transmission would have ended at 11:06 am CST, which means that one of the three faxes the defendant received at that time must be hers. But, as the defendant pointed out, in December, daylight savings time is not in effect. Which means that 16:06 UTC actually translates to 10:06 am CST, not 11:06 CST, a full hour before the plaintiff allegedly faxed her dispute.

“Plaintiff’s theory of the case does not align with the minute or hour of the three calls at issue in AT&T’s records,” wrote Judge James Shadid of the District Court for the Central District of Illinois. “Thus, contrary to Plainiff’s argument, the AT&T records do not demonstrate that Plaintiff’s fax was successfully delivered to Weltman. Thus, the Court considers as undisputed Defendant’s statement that AT&T’s records do not show that Weltman received any call from Plaintiff’s fax number on December 1, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.”

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