In a case that was defended by Rick Perr and the team at Kaufman Dolowich, a District Court judge in Illinois — on his own motion — has granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant on the remaining two counts in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling that using a local number to contact the plaintiff was not illegal, nor was it to place 17 calls to the plaintiff in a six-week span, because the plaintiff never informed the defendant it had the wrong number.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Brown v. MRS BPO can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff’s mother defaulted on a credit card debt and the creditor provided a phone number to the defendant that could be used to reach the mother. The defendant placed 17 calls to the number over the course of six weeks, using a local phone number for the plaintiff’s area. Had anyone called those numbers, the defendant noted, he or she would have been connected to the defendant.
While there was a dispute over how many of the calls the plaintiff answered, the defendant produced recordings from two calls. In the first, after hearing the representative of the defendant identify himself and say he was looking for Judith Leavell (the mother), the plaintiff — Gabriel Brown — said should have her attorney contact the defendant because they were violating the FCRA. In the second call, the plaintiff stated that she had now asked twice for the defendant not to call that phone number and that she would be forwarding this information to an attorney.
The plaintiff filed suit and after some back-and-forth, there were just two counts remaining — that the defendant violated Sections 1692d(6) and 1692e of the FDCPA.
The plaintiff alleged the defendant violated Section 1692d(6) by using a local phone number to deceive the plaintiff into answering the call, because the defendant did not have an office in that area code. But, the defendant argued, the number that was displayed was true and accurate.
“Ultimately, defendant’s most convincing argument is that plaintiff is not complaining about defendant’s disclosure, or lack of disclosure, during its telephone communications with her,” wrote Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. “Instead, she is arguing that defendant violated § 1692d(6) based on the caller identification display alone. In light of § 1692c(b), which restricts the information that debt collectors can provide before it knows which individual has answered its call, a reasonable jury could not find that defendant failed to meaningfully disclose itself under § 1692d(6).”