Mille Lacs County District Court File No. 48CV112341
Amy M. Goltz, Dan J. Bernhard, Gurstel Chargo, PA, Golden Valley, Minnesota; and Andrew D. Parker, Mark J. Kiperstin, Parker Rosen, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent TEM Capital)
Jonathan R. Septer, Derrick N. Weber, Messerli & Kramer, PA, Plymouth, Minnesota (for respondent Livingston Financial)
Karl W. Sonneman, Attorney at Law, Winona, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Bjorkman, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
In these consolidated appeals, appellant challenges the grant of summary judgment in separate actions awarding amounts owed on appellant's two credit-card accounts that were assigned separately to respondent debt-collecting businesses. Appellant argues that (1) the assignment of his credit-card debts to respondents for a fraction of the amount he owes is unconscionable and unenforceable; (2) the evidence offered by respondents to prove the assignments is insufficient; and (3) collateral estoppel bars separate actions to collect the debts. Because (1) the assignments are not unconscionable; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that the foundation for evidence of the assignments is adequate and the evidence is sufficient to prove the assignments; and (3) the doctrine of collateral estoppel does not apply to respondents' separate actions to collect separate debts, we affirm.
In 1985, appellant Rodney E. Leonard opened a credit-card account (the TEM account) with Chase Bank USA, N.A. (Chase). In 1986, appellant opened a second Chase credit-card account (the Livingston account). Leonard charged purchases to and made payments on the accounts until he defaulted on both accounts in 2008. After accelerating the balance due and charging off the accounts, Chase sold the accounts on the secondary market.
Chase sold the TEM account to HS Financial Group, LLC, which sold it to Mattia and Associates, Inc., which then sold it to respondent TEM Capital, LLC (TEM). Chase sold the Livingston account to Turtle Creek Assets, Ltd., which then sold it to respondent Livingston Financial, LLC (Livingston). Leonard does not dispute that he received invoices and statements for both accounts from Chase while Chase owned the accounts and from TEM and Livingston, respectively, after the accounts were assigned. Leonard never objected to the statements and, at oral argument on appeal, stated that he does not dispute the amount owed on each account.
In separate actions, TEM and Livingston sued Leonard, seeking judgment for the amounts owed by Leonard as well as interest, costs, and disbursements. TEM and Livingston moved for summary judgment in the respective actions.
TEM supported its motion with the affidavit of a "member" who attested that he is an authorized agent of TEM, is familiar with and has full access to TEM's business records, and has knowledge of TEM's business-records retention practices. The affiant, in relevant part, referenced attached statements of account that Chase sent to Leonard from March 2008 through August 2009 and a bill of sale for each transfer of the TEM account from Chase to HS Financial Group, LLC, then to Mattia and Associates, Inc., and finally to TEM. The affiant attested to Leonard's failure to assert any disputes concerning charges on regular statements that were sent to him and asserted the current amount owed, including interest under the terms of the credit-card agreement.
Leonard opposed TEM's summary-judgment motion. Leonard challenged the basis of TEM's affiant's knowledge about TEM's business practices and ability to provide a foundation for the documents from Chase and the other assignors. Leonard also asserted that "TEM is engaged in unconscionable and ...