There isn’t much to the ruling in this case, but it does involve a trend that I have been hearing more of in recent months, so I wanted to highlight this in case you haven’t seen it, or have seen it and are curious how these cases are being handled. A District Court judge in Oklahoma has granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case involving a plaintiff who was not the recipient of the alleged illegal collection activity, but instead is someone who had the account assigned to him by the account holder.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Dotson v. Enhanced Recovery Co. can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff is an assignee of Terrell Engmann. Engmann allegedly noted an error on his credit report regarding a collection account in his name. He then assigned his account to the plaintiff to pursue a claim that the defendant violated the FDCPA.
After the plaintiff filed his complaint, the defendant filed its motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that state law in Oklahoma does not allow these types of claims to be assigned to third parties. The only claims that can be assigned are those dealing with subrogation and contracts, according to the defendant’s motion.
Judge Robin J. Cauthron of the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma agreed with the defendant. ” … there is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Engmann’s claims arose out of a contractual relationship with Defendant ERC,” Judge Cauthron wrote. “Rather, it is clear that any claim Mr. Engmann has against Defendant ERC for the alleged violation of the FDCPA sounds in tort. Accordingly, the claim cannot be assigned and Plaintiff cannot pursue this action as he is not the real party in interest.”