United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jonathan L.R. Drewes and Bennett Hartz, Drewes Law PLLC, Counsel for Plaintiff.
Ashley M. DeMinck and Russell S. Ponessa, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Counsel for Defendant Credit Control Services, Inc. dba Credit Collection Services.
MEMORANDUM OF LAW & ORDER
MICHAEL J. DAVIS, Chief District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Credit Collection Services' ("CCS") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Docket No. 33]. The Court heard oral argument on November 8, 2013.
A. Factual Background
Taking the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint and its Exhibits to be true, on March 6, 2013, Plaintiff Sherry Surinta used Trans Union, LLC's ("Trans Union") online dispute service to dispute a debt she had with her creditor ("debt collector"), CCS. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12, Ex. A.) Specifically, Plaintiff stated that the account with CCS "was paid to the original creditor prior to becoming a collection or charge-off" and that CCS "agreed to remove this account from [her] file." (Am. Compl., Ex. A.) Sometime between March 6, 2013 and April 3, 2013, Trans Union notified CCS of Plaintiff's dispute as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681(a)(2). (Am. Compl. ¶ 13, Ex. B (providing that Trans Union "completed verification of the investigation").)
Sometime between March 6, 2013 and April 3, 2013, CCS responded to Trans Union's inquiry by providing new information about the debt owed by Plaintiff. (See Am. Compl., Ex. B.) This response was likely provided in a communication occurring on March 14 or 15, 2013 from CCS to Trans Union ("March 14/15 Communication"): the parties stipulated at the November 8, 2013 motion hearing that the March 14/15 Communication occurred and that it was an update of debt information that did not contain a statement that Plaintiff's debt was disputed. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 15; Am. Compl., Ex. C, at 2-3; see also Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n 3 ("According to records of the exchange recently provided by Trans Union, CCS first communicated the disputed credit information to Trans Union without noting the dispute on or about March 14 or March 15.").)
These facts are the basis for Plaintiff's claim that CCS violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(8), which requires debt collectors to indicate when a specific debt is disputed in their communications. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10, 18.) In its Answer, CCS affirmatively alleged that it submitted a report to Trans Union on March 19, 2013 (the "March 19 Report") that contained the dispute code "XB, " which designated Plaintiff's account as disputed. (Answer, Docket No. 23, ¶ 15, Ex. 1.)
B. Procedural History
On April 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota against Gerald Sands; Credit Management, LP; Monco Law Offices, SC; and ResidentCollect, Inc. [Docket No. 1] Plaintiff then amended her Complaint on May 2, 2013 [Docket No. 5], replacing Gerald Sands and adding Trans Union and CCS as parties. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges Counts I through III, which state claims against CCS, Monco Law Offices, and ResidentCollect for violations of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(8) (the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act). In the alternative, the Amended Complaint also alleged Count IV: Violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(f) (the Fair Credit Reporting Act) against Trans Union.
On June 28, 2013, Trans Union was dismissed from the lawsuit [Docket No. 20] after a stipulation by Plaintiff and Trans Union. [Docket No. 19] Plaintiff also voluntarily dismissed ResidentCollect, Inc. as a defendant to the suit. [Docket Nos. 28, 29] CCS and Monco Law Offices are the only defendants that remain in the suit. On December 5, 2013, default was entered against Defendant ...