On April 13, Judge Beth Phillips, a federal judge in the Western District of Missouri, granted summary judgment in favor of Credit World Services, Inc. (“CWS”) in a case filed by a consumer that owed a debt to CWS (full opinion found here). In the lawsuit, Plaintiff alleges that CWS violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in four ways:
(1) CWS engaged in abusive conduct during conversations with Plaintiff in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d;
(2) CWS made false statements and misrepresentations regarding the status of the collection and garnishment in violation of 15 U.S.C. §1692e;
(3) CWS failed to send Plaintiff a validation notice pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a); and
(4) CWS did not cease collection activities pending its verification of the debt after receipt of a request for validation from Plaintiff pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b).
Plaintiff asserts that CWS’s agent made statements that Plaintiff’s account was already in the litigation process and that it could not be stopped, and that Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s husband’s wages would be garnished. Further, Plaintiff asserts that CWS’s employee laughed when Plaintiff asked if litigation could be stopped, asked why Plaintiff did not call in response to earlier letters, and commented that Plaintiff was “able to pay for everything else.” CWS denied that its employee made these statements and contends that even if such statements were made, the statements are immaterial and do not support Plaintiff’s alleged FDCPA violations.
The Judge held that the conduct of CWS was not abusive and would not mislead the least sophisticated consumer. Further, the Court held that Plaintiff did not change her conduct and rely on the alleged statements. Because Plaintiff did not act based on these statements, the Court found the statements were not materially false or misleading. Finally, Judge Phillips ruled that the Plaintiff had not preserved the arguments related to validation and validation notice on summary judgment and, therefore, these arguments had been waived.