In Carroll v. Medicredit, Inc., No. 2:20-cv-01728-KJD-EJY (D. Nev. Mar. 18, 2022), the court denied the parties’ cross motions for judgment on the pleadings as to claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) that arose out of collection calls placed after the parties had agreed to settle the underlying debt.
The defendant debt collector, Medicredit, purchased a medical debt owed by the plaintiff, Deborah Carroll. In May 2020, the parties agreed to settle the debt for a discounted amount. Following the settlement, however, Medicredit placed three calls to Carroll, seeking to collect the debt. In each instance, Medicredit left her a voicemail message, using an artificial or prerecorded voice. Carroll filed suit, alleging violations of the TCPA and FDCPA.
With regard to the TCPA claim, Medicredit admitted that it was liable to Carroll if she could show that she revoked her prior express consent to receive such calls. The parties agreed that Carroll had given consent when negotiating with Medicredit, but Carroll asserted that she revoked her consent by settling the underlying debt. In denying both parties’ motions for judgment on the pleadings, the court held that without evidence showing how Carroll had initially given her consent, it could not determine as a matter of law that merely settling the underlying debt was enough to show revocation.
Additionally, Carroll asserted that the calls, seeking to collect a debt that had been settled, violated the FDCPA. Applying the least sophisticated consumer standard, the court denied Medicredit’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that the messages were misleading and that the “calls are the exact kind of harm that the FDCPA is attempting to punish.” However, Medicredit also asserted a “bona fide error” defense under which a debt collector cannot be held liable if it can show that the violation resulted from a “bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error.” Because Medicredit’s pleading provided fair notice of this affirmative defense, the court also denied Carroll’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.