In a recent decision, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the Middle District of Alabama’s dismissal of a consumer’s claim under § 1692g of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because he failed to state a plausible claim for relief.
Among other things, § 1692 of the FDCPA requires a debt collector to “send the consumer a written notice containing” certain information, including “the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.” In this case, the consumer claimed that Medical Data Systems violated this provision when it mailed him a debt collection letter that failed to “effectively convey” the name of his creditor, Medical Center Enterprise. The consumer’s claim arose out of medical services he received from Medical Center Enterprise in 2015.
In analyzing the consumer’s claims, the Eleventh Circuit noted that the collection letter identified Medical Data Systems as doing business with Medical Revenue Service, “a collection agency.” The letter further stated that Medical Revenue Service was tasked with collecting the “account(s) listed below,” and listed Medical Center Enterprise next to a service date, patient name, and outstanding balance. The consumer argued that this notice was insufficient because it failed to expressly state that Medical Center Enterprise was his “creditor.”
The Eleventh Circuit disagreed with the consumer and held that he had failed to state a plausible claim for relief because he was challenging only the “effectiveness of the debt collection letter, not the accuracy of it.” In doing so, the Court noted that although the Eleventh Circuit has not decided whether courts should apply the “least sophisticated consumer” standard to claims under § 1692g, the consumer’s claim in this case was insufficient to survive even this standard. In particular, the Court stated that “[a] consumer who had been a patient at a hospital would surely understand the hospital to be the creditor when its name was listed next to the amount of the debt,” even without the use of the term “creditor.”
The case is Lait v. Medical Data Systems, Inc., No. 18-12255 (11th Cir. Nov. 9, 2018).