A District Court judge in New Jersey has ruled that placing 16 calls during a 30-day period is not enough to rise to the level of abusive or harassing behavior under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and has granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss.
The Background: The plaintiff originally filed this case in New Jersey state court back in 2022. The defendant then removed the case to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss. The judge granted the motion to dismiss on one claim with prejudice and on the other two claims without prejudice, allowing the plaintiff to file an amended complaint, which she did.
- The amended complaint accused the defendant of engaging in unfair, abusive, and deceptive practices by making 16 calls between April 6 and May 7, 2021.
The Ruling: Under Section 1692d of the FDCPA, causing a phone to ring continuously or repeatedly is necessary for a violation to have occurred. While admitting there is no precise test to determine the intent of a collector, Judge Julien Xavier Neals of the District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled that 16 calls during a 30-day period does not pass the smell test. The complaint did not mention that calls were made one right after the other or that the defendant called during unusual hours, Judge Neals noted.
- The tipping point may have been that the plaintiff did not answer any of those 16 phone calls. Thus, the plaintiff could not allege that the substance of the calls were annoying or abusive, Judge Neals ruled.
- Judge Neals also dismissed the plaintiff’s 1692f claim on the grounds the plaintiff failed to state a claim.