Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant in FDCPA Case Over Email Communications

We’re all busy people and time is one thing we don’t have enough of, so I try to be very conscious of that and keep the articles I publish as brief and to the point as possible. Sometimes — especially when writing about court rulings — it can be tough to summarize lengthy opinions into just a few hundred words, and today’s case definitely fits that description, but the brevity in which this case is summarized belies the comprehensiveness of the ruling and the defendant’s efforts to make its case why its motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case should be granted.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Johnson v. TrueAccord can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant sent three emails in an eight-day span to the plaintiff attempting to collect on an unpaid credit card debt that was sold to a debt buyer. The plaintiff responded with a dispute and validation request that even the judge in this case described as “lengthy” (which is an understatement, by the way). The defendant stopped working the account until a validation letter was sent back to the plaintiff. Collection efforts resumed and the plaintiff sent pretty much the same dispute notification again. Another validation letter was sent to the plaintiff and then the account was recalled by the creditor from the defendant.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the validation replies did not provide enough information to substantiate the debt, that the communications from the defendant were false or deceptive because they did not contain adequate information, and in a last-ditch attempt to keep her case alive, she contended that having to attest to the nature of a debt — ensuring it was for household or consumer purposes so it can be subject to the FDCPA — in cases of identity theft or mistake identity “makes no sense.”

The defendant responded by filing a motion with “an organized list of twenty-one material facts, each with a citation to evidence in the record,” noted Judge Bridget Meehan Brennan of the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in her 26-page ruling. The plaintiff, unfortunately, did not point to facts, but legal conclusions, and even those were “not sound or persuasive,” the judge wrote.

Quoting excerpts from the plaintiff’s deposition and going into great detail on each of the claims made by the plaintiff, Judge Brennan — who was confirmed to the federal bench earlier this year — methodically refutes each of the arguments made by the plaintiff and points out how the defendant did the right thing every step of the way.

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