On June 6, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ruled on dueling motions for summary judgment in a suit against a debt collection agency for alleged violations of the FDCPA. The plaintiff contended the debt collection agency improperly handled the reporting of two accounts to credit reporting agencies, one of which the debt collection agency failed to identify as disputed after receiving a dispute letter from the plaintiff’s counsel, violating both § 1692e and § 1692f of the FDCPA.

First, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s § 1692f claim was defective because it was duplicative of the § 1692e claim. A claim under the 1692f “catch-all” prohibition against unfair and unconscionable conduct must be supported to conduct “beyond that which [s]he asserts violates other provisions of the FDCPA.” Since the plaintiff offered no additional allegations beyond what was claimed to support the 1692e claim, the court granted the debt collection agency summary judgment on the § 1692f claim.

The court found that there was a genuine dispute as to whether the debt collection agency should have known that one of the debts was disputed, and denied summary judgment to both parties. Here, the plaintiff sent a dispute letter notifying the debt collection agency of a dispute “for all debts that [plaintiff] may have,” and then stated that “the above referenced individual(s) disputes the debt which you are attempting to collect.”

While the plaintiff alleged that the reference to “all debts” put the debt collection agency on notice of multiple debts being disputed, the debt collection agency halted negative reporting on the first account by matching the plaintiff’s name and social security number, it did not do the same for the second account because no matching information was provided. The court found that the dispute letter was ambiguous, and consequently denied motion for summary judgment for both sides.

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