Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant in FDCPA Case Over Communication Issues

You ever have a situation where you and someone else just don’t see eye to eye on anything? A debt collector is having that problem with a husband and wife, where both sides agree that a debt is owed, but disagree on just about everything that happened after that debt was placed with the collector. Fortunately for the collector, a District Court judge in Washington has granted its motion for summary judgment, thanks to transcripts of the call recordings between both sides and the mailbox rule.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Olson v. Armada Corp. can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiffs took out a loan with a credit union and failed to repay it. The account was subsequently placed with the defendant for collection. That’s where the stories diverge. The defendant — backed by its own records — says it sent four letters to the plaintiffs regarding the debt. The plaintiffs claim never to have received them. The plaintiffs claim their first contact with the defendant occurred three years later, when they saw the debt on their credit report and called the defendant. A payment plan was established, but again the two sides disagreed on the terms and the payment methods that were agreed upon. The defendant filed a collection lawsuit against the couple, which was settled. The plaintiffs then sued the defendant, claiming it violated Sections 1692g(a), 1692e, and 1692f of the FDCPA, as well as state law in Washington.

Regarding the letters, the plaintiffs — who confirmed that the address used by the defendant to send the communications is their proper address — had no proof that they letters were neither sent nor received. The defendant, using a declaration from its office manager as well as the mailbox rule and the fact that there is nothing in the FDCPA that says a collector has to be able to prove that a letter was received, had plenty of evidence for Judge James L. Robart of the District Court for the Western District of Washington to grant summary judgment on the 1692g(a) claim.

As for the other claims, the defendant submitted transcripts of its recordings from conversations between its representative and the plaintiff that prove the defendant’s side of the story regarding the amount and payment method that were agreed upon by both sides. The plaintiffs argued that the transcripts lacked proper authentication and credibility, but Judge Robart did not have the same hesitation.

“This sort of unsupported ‘supposition, speculation, and conclusory argument of counsel’ does not suffice to create a genuine fact dispute,” Judge Robart wrote. “And because no reasonable jury could find that the events reflected in the call transcript show that Armada engaged in any kind of ‘false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means,’ the court GRANTS summary judgment in Armada’s favor.” 

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