In Allen v. Credit Collection Services, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California recently ruled that a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act plaintiff’s vague, self-serving testimony of oral revocation was insufficient to trump a debt collector’s detailed call records that contained no evidence of revocation. The court’s decision illustrates the advantages of an FDCPA defendant maintaining detailed call records to rebut frivolous and unsupported debt collections based on alleged harassment.
Plaintiff Cameron Allen’s cable bill was turned over to defendant Credit Collection Services (“CCS”) for collection. In Allen’s complaint, he alleged that CCS placed eight calls to his cellular telephone number, which he previously had provided to the original creditor. The calls were placed about a week apart, and CCS’s records showed that its representatives only spoke to Allen twice during that period. CCS recorded both calls, neither of which indicated that Allen had told CCS to stop calling him. During the next four months, CCS made seven more calls — all evenly spaced apart — to Allen, and each call was unanswered.
Allen filed suit against CCS, alleging violations of Section 1692d(5) of the FDCPA, which prohibits “causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.” In his deposition, Allen testified that he told CCS to stop contacting him, but he had no notes or other records that provided any support or specificity for his testimony. CCS moved for summary judgment based on its call records and recordings, which contained no indication that Allen ever requested that CCS stop the calling.
The Court ruled that Allen’s “vague and unsubstantiated” testimony failed to rebut the “solid evidence” provided by defendant CCS. Allen’s “self-serving testimony” was simply not enough for the Court to allow the case to survive summary judgment, especially considering that CCS only made 15 calls during the time span in question. The Court noted that the “[p]laintiff cannot say who at [CCS] he spoke with or on how many occasions such conversations occurred.” Further, “[h]e offers no notes of any conversations he purports to have had and cannot even say when the conversations took place any more definitely than that they occurred over a period of some three months.”
A copy of the district court’s decision is available here. Troutman Sanders regularly advises clients on debt collection compliance issues and pre-litigation matters. Over the years, we have defended thousands of debt collection claims throughout the country. Please contact us if you have any questions about your debt collection practices or litigation needs.