Judge Partially Grants MSJ for Defendant Accused of Attempting to Collect From Wrong Person

A District Court judge in Washington has partially granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment while denying a plaintiff’s motion for the same ruling in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case in which the defendant attempted to collect a debt from the plaintiff, who claims not to have incurred the debt in question.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Opico v. Convergent Outsourcing can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received two collection letters from the defendant three months apart from one another. After receiving the second letter, the plaintiff sent a letter to the defendant claiming to have no knowledge of the debt and disputing it. The defendant responded to the plaintiff’s dispute letter saying it had completed its investigation and found the debt to be valid.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated Sections 1692e, 1692e(2), 1692e(5), 1692e(10),1692f, and 1692f(1) of the FDCPA.

Judge Robert Lasnik of the District Court for the Western District of Washington ultimately granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the 1692e(5), 1692f, and 1692f(1) claims while denying the motion with respect to the other claims. The judge also denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

The collection letters were enough for a hypothetical least sophisticated consumer to believe he or she owed a debt that he or she did not owe, Judge Lasnik ruled, creating triable issues of fact under the claims that were not denied. The judge did not think the policies and procedures put in place by the defendant to try and prevent errors like this from happening in the first place were sufficient to allow the defendant to use the FDCPA’s bona fide error defense. “The Court finds that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether obtaining credit reports was a procedure defendant consistently applied and whether its Account Scrubs procedures were reasonably adapted to prevent defendant from attempting to collect a debt from the wrong person,” Judge Lasnik ruled.

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