A federal district court in Connecticut recently ruled that a debt collector’s 29 telephone calls to a debtor’s home telephone over a period of 24 days was sufficient to establish a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In denying in part the defendant debt collector’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer found that the frequency of the telephone calls could support plaintiff Peter Lundstedt’s claim that the debt collector made the calls to harass, abuse, or coerce him.
Lundstedt, who is representing himself, filed the action in Connecticut state court in May of 2015. The debt collector removed the action to federal court later that month. Lundstedt alleged the debt collector made 29 “terrorizing collection calls” in an attempt to collect on a $160 debt he owed to Verizon even though Lundstedt requested the debt collector to stop calling him. The complaint also alleged the debt collector violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act as well as Connecticut state and common law. Attached to the complaint was a call log which purportedly showed 29 phone calls from the debt collector to Lundstedt from February 16 through April 11, 2015.
On August 25, 2015, the debt collector filed its motion for judgment on the pleadings in which it asked the Court to dismiss Lundstedt’s complaint. With regards to Lundstedt’s FDCPA claim, the debt collector argued the number of calls it made to Lundstedt is not sufficient to support a claim of harassment under the FDCPA. The debt collector also argued that Lundstedt failed to plead facts sufficient to support a claim under the TCPA or Connecticut state and common law.
Judge Meyer agreed with the debt collector’s analysis of Lundstedt’s TCPA and Connecticut state law claims and dismissed those counts of the complaint with prejudice. However, Judge Meyer found the 29 telephone calls over a period of 24 days was not “so insubstantial that it fails as a matter of law.” Judge Meyer further cited the fact that Lundstedt had orally requested that the debt collector stop calling him as well as evidence that the debt collector made multiple calls per day to support his decision that Lundstedt had pled facts sufficient to support a claim under the FDCPA.
This decision adds to the series of cases in which courts have attempted to quantify the number of telephone calls that constitute harassing or abusive conduct under the FDCPA. However, application of this decision to future cases is notably limited due to the procedural posture of the case. Further, claims of harassing or abusive telephone calls remain highly fact-specific inquiries for courts to consider, which may lessen the effect of a given court’s decision.