United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jonathan L.R. Drewes and Bennet Hartz, Drewes Law PPLC, Counsel for Plaintiff.
Michael A. Klutho, Susan E. Gustad, and Aram V. Desteian, Counsel for Defendant Springer Collections, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. DAVIS, Chief District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Springer Collections, Inc.'s ("Springer") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
As alleged in the Complaint, on August 5, 2013, Plaintiff submitted a dispute to Equifax, a Credit Reporting Agency ("CRA") concerning a reported account by Springer, a collection agency. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Equifax conveyed Plaintiff's dispute to Springer soon after, but Springer failed to include in its response to Equifax that the account was disputed. ( Id. at ¶¶ 19, 30 and Ex. B.) Springer admitted that it received Plaintiff's dispute through Equifax and that it failed to include Plaintiff's dispute in its response to Equifax. (See Separate Answer of Springer Collections, Inc. at ¶ 18.)
A. Legal Standard for Judgment on the Pleadings
Judgment on the pleadings is granted "where no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Poehl v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. , 528 F.2d 1093, 1096 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). The Court must view the facts pleaded by the nonmoving party as true and grant all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. Id . "When considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings... the court generally must ignore materials outside the pleadings, but it may consider some materials that are part of the public record or do not contradict the complaint, as well as materials that are necessarily embraced by the pleadings." Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp. , 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). In this case, exhibits attached to the Complaint, Answer, and briefs relating to the Motion of Judgment on the Pleadings are necessarily embraced by the pleadings. See id.
B. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") prohibits "[c]ommunicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed." 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(8). The failure to communicate that a debt is disputed must be both "false, deceptive, or misleading" and made "in connection with the collection of any debt" for it to be actionable. Id . §1692e; see also Surinta v. Credit Control Servs., Inc., Civil No. 13-817, 2014 WL 538675 at * 2 (D. Minn. Feb. 11, 2013).
Plaintiff claims that Springer violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(8) when it failed to update Plaintiff's credit report as "disputed" pursuant to the FDCPA, even though it properly noted the dispute to Trans Union, LLC ("Trans Union"). Springer argues that Plaintiff's claim fails as a matter of law for several reasons.
Springer argues that its response to Equifax was not a "communication in connection with the collection of any debt" as required under § 1692e(8) of the FDCPA. This Court in Surinta noted that the FCRA governs communications between the collection agency and the CRA. Surinta, 2014 WL 538675 at *2. The FCRA requires the CRA to notify the collectors of a consumer's dispute, followed by the debt collector responding to the CRA's dispute notification once the dispute has been received. Id .; 15 U.S.C. § 1681i(a)(2). The possible methods of response include verifying, modifying, omitting, and blocking reporting of the already disputed information. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b). Since the communication was required by the FCRA, the debt collector was not acting on its own initiative to collect the debt. Instead, it was responding to the CRA in order to comply with the FCRA. See McIvor v. Credit Control Servs., Inc., 987 F.Supp.2d 968, 971 (D. Minn. 2013) (citing Edeh v. Midland Credit Management, Inc. , 748 F.Supp.2d 1030, 1036 (D. Minn. 2010), aff'd, 413 ...