A District Court judge in Washington has mostly denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss — she did grant it on one count of the claim — in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case in which the debt collector was accused of attempting to collect a debt that the plaintiff claimed she did not owe.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Creager v. Columbia Debt Recovery can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff moved out of her apartment before her lease expired and was notified that she owed more than the security deposit she had made when she signed her lease. She disputed the amount that was owed to the original creditor, and the two sides were unable to resolve the issue, leading the creditor to assign the account to the defendant for collection.
The defendant contacted the plaintiff twice — once in 2019 and again in 2021. During the initial contact, the plaintiff alleged she repeatedly told the defendant she did not owe the amount that was being claimed and that her security deposited had been forfeited. The plaintiff claims the defendant agreed to contact the original creditor. Two years later, the defendant again contacted the plaintiff, but this time alleged that the amount owed was $1,000 more because of interest that had been accruing.
The plaintiff filed suit in state court, alleging the defendant violated several provisions of the FDCPA. The defendant had the case removed to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss. It argued that all it did was attempt to collect the amount that the original creditor said was owed, but Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein of the District Court for the Western District of Washington did not subscribe to the defendant’s argument. The plaintiff alleged the defendant violated Sections 1692e(2), 1692e(5) 1692e(8), 1692e(10), and 1692f of the FDCPA, and Judge Jacobs Rothstein only granted the motion to dismiss on the 1692e(5) claim. Of the remaining claims, the judge did not agree with the defendant that the plaintiff’s issues were with the original creditor, not the collector.
“Defendant moves to dismiss this claim by arguing that it made no false representations because it simply attempted to collect the amount assigned to it by” the original creditor, Judge Jacobs Rothstein wrote. “… Defendant’s argument fails because a debt collector may be held liable under the FDCPA for attempting to collect a debt that a consumer does not owe, even if the debt collector is attempting to collect the amount of debt assigned by the original creditor.”