Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Claim-Splitting Case

For at least the third time against different defendants and the second time against the same defendant, a District Court judge in Rhode Island has granted a defendant’s motion against a plaintiff who files lawsuits alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for essentially each phone call he receives.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Laccinole v. MRS BPO can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff has filed three separate lawsuits against the defendants; in this one he named the co-CEOs of the company as defendants, as well. The plaintiff filed his first lawsuit against this defendant last May, alleging it violated the FDCPA and Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending him four pre-recorded messages and making six calls in a one-month span. In this action, the plaintiff alleges he received another call from the defendant the day after he filed his first lawsuit. The third suit, which was also dismissed for claim-splitting, was for another call he allegedly received from the defendant three days later.

To circumvent the cap on the FDCPA’s damages limit of $1,000 per violation, the plaintiff “deliberately pursues three separate actions for different FDCPA violations by the same Defendants in order to accrue damages in excess of $1,000,” noted Judge William E. Smith of the District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Because the three lawsuits in question all “arise from a common nucleus of operative fact: that MRS allegedly wrongfully called Plaintiff multiple times over the court of approximately two months to collect on a debt he did not owe, despite him informing MRS that it had the wrong number and requesting to stop calling him,” the subsequent calls that were made are still connected and related to the efforts of collecting on the same debt, Judge Smith wrote.

Also helping the defendants is the fact that they were not served with any of the three lawsuits until nearly a month after the last phone call attempt was made.

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