A District Court judge in Arizona has given partial wins to both sides in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act case involving the use of an automated telephone dialing system, whether the volume of calls placed invaded the plaintiff’s privacy, and whether the investigation that the defendant conducted after a debt was disputed was reasonable. The defendant must face claims that the volume of calls it placed was excessive and that it did not conduct a reasonable investigation.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Berrow v. Navient Solutions can be accessed by clicking here.
Back in 2001, the plaintiff and his wife co-signed for a student loan for their daughter. The daughter passed away in 2009, which led the defendant to move the responsibility for repaying the loan to the plaintiff. The defendant also moved responsibility for another loan to the plaintiff, although the plaintiff disputes whether he cosigned for that loan. Then, the defendant sent an invoice for a 2002 loan.
The plaintiff made payments on all three loans for eight years even though he repeatedly attempted to convince the defendant he only cosigned for one of the loans. The defendant investigated the dispute and determined the plaintiff was liable for all three loans. The plaintiff stopped making monthly payments on the loans in 2017, at which point the defendant began calling him. The plaintiff allegedly revoked consent for the defendant to contact him and renewed that objection at least 15 more times, which resulted from 360 automated calls.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated the TCPA and the FCRA.
The defendant argued that 323 calls during a 14-month span was not enough to allow the claim to proceed. While agreeing that the volume of calls was not enough, Judge Susan M. Brnovich of the District Court for the District of Arizona agreed with the plaintiff that his revocation of consent, that the defendant knew the debt was the of the plaintiff’s deceased daughter, and the evidence the plaintiff provided that he was not obligated to pay the debt are enough material facts to preclude summary judgment.
Regarding the 2002 loan, a representative of the defendant testified tat she looked at the computer record and simply because the loan was associated with the plaintiff’s name and Social Security number, assumed that he was a cosigner. The defendant does not have a promissory note signed by the plaintiff obligating him to that loan, Judge Brnovich noted. The representative also confirmed that the defendant did not conduct an investigation when the plaintiff submitted an identity theft dispute. Doing a “a cursory review without looking at the underlying documents before verifying the debt” to the CRAs” is not what meets the threshold of a reasonable investigation, Judge Brnovich ruled.