Judge Grants MSJ for Defense in FDCPA Case Over Validation Requests

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that the verification information it sent to the plaintiff was sufficient to validate and debt and that it was not a false or misleading act to place the account with another agency while it was being disputed with the original collector.

A copy of the ruling in the case of White v. Resurgent Capital Services can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff incurred a debt from QVC that was sold and placed with the defendant for collection. The defendant placed the account with an agency, which sent an email to the plaintiff to collect on the debt. The email included the statutory validation notice, and the plaintiff sent a written validation request to the agency. The defendant sent two letters to the plaintiff, validating the debt by providing the name of the original creditor, the name of the current creditor, the last four digits of the account number, and the amount of the debt, although one of the responses was outside the 30-day window. The validation letters themselves had validation notices included on them, and the plaintiff subsequently filed additional validation requests to the defendant. The defendant placed the account with another agency, which sent a verification letter to the plaintiff and included the same information as the original letter. The plaintiff then filed additional validation requests, which were subsequently responded to.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging that the defendant acted deceptively when it attempted to collect on the debt by placing the account with the second collection agency despite having received requests for validation and while the debt was still being actively disputed.

But the debt was no longer technically in dispute, noted Judge David W. Dugan of the District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The defendant was free to resume collection efforts after it responded to the initial validation request. “Plaintiff cannot forestall collection efforts by disputing the debt into perpetuity,” Judge Dugan wrote.

Further, there is nothing in the FDCPA that prohibits the use of more than one debt collector to collect on a debt, Judge Dugan ruled.

Regarding the second validation request that was sent outside the 30-day window, Judge Dugan ruled it to be immaterial, especially when considering “the second validation notice was sent after Plaintiff exercised her statutory right to dispute the debt.”

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