In a case that was first noted by TCPAWorld, a District Court judge in Rhode Island has dismissed 21 of 22 lawsuits filed by a plaintiff who, for the most part, used each phone call he received from a debt collector to file lawsuits against the company alleging it violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by calling him after he had revoked consent to be contacted.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Laccinole v. Diversified Consultants Inc. can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received 26 calls from the defendant and filed 22 lawsuits, sometimes minutes after a call was made. The plaintiff alleged he had sent the defendant a letter saying he was revoking his consent to be contacted by phone call before any of the calls were made.
The plaintiff admitted he filed each lawsuit separately as an attempt to increase the damages he could receive under the FDCPA, which awards a maximum of $1,000 per suit, not per violation.
Under the doctrine of claim splitting, which requires plaintiffs combine alleged violations that arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts in the same civil action, the judge in this case dismissed 21 of the 22 suits and gave the plaintiff 30 days to amend his complaint to encompass his entire claim.
The plaintiff was attempt to circumvent the claim splitting allegation by immediately filing lawsuits after each call.
“It is of no moment that each complaint alleges a different telephone call or calls,” wrote Judge Mary McElroy of the District Court for the District of Rhode Island. “These subsequent calls are connected, related transactions, concerning a debt and efforts to collect that debt. Thus, all of Mr. Laccinole’s Complaints are from the same ‘nucleus of operative facts.’ “