United States District Court, District of Columbia
G. SULLIVAN United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment, ECF No. 17. For the reasons discussed below,
the Court will grant the motion.
October 10, 2013, Stellar Recovery was referred a delinquent
accounted owned by the Plaintiff Aisha Carlisle to Comcast
for services and/or equipment provided.” Def.'s
Brief in Support of its Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 17-1
(“Def.'s Brief”), Aff. in Support of Mot. for
Summ. J., ECF No. 17-2 (“Martin Aff.”) ¶ 5.
“On October 28, 2013, Stellar furnished information
regarding [Plaintiff's] Comcast debt to credit reporting
agencies.” Martin Aff. ¶ 6. Thus, Stellar was
listed as the collection agency associated with an unpaid
balance of $110 owed by Plaintiff to Comcast. See
Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 19 (“Pl.'s
Opp'n”), Exhs. G-I.
sent Stellar two certified letters, one dated November 20,
2014 and the other dated December 17, 2014, demanding that
Steller validate the debt. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6;
id., Exhs. B-C; see Martin Aff. ¶ 8.
When she “received no written correspondence from
Steller, ” Plaintiff submitted to the Federal Trade
Commission an Affidavit of Identity Theft and
“contacted three credit bureaus in order to set up a
fraud and identity theft alert[.]” Id. ¶
6. In addition, Plaintiff contacted the Better Business
Bureau (“BBB”) in January 2015 and filed a
complaint against Stellar alleging violations of the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act. Id. ¶ 7.
“On January 2, 2015, [she] received a response from
Stellar . . . through the BBB online response portal without
getting the validation of debt verification.”
Id. Through the BBB representative, “Stellar .
. . told [Plaintiff] that the case/file/claim was closed upon
receipt of the Identity Theft Affidavit.” Id.
Steller received from Plaintiff on December 1, 2014 “a
written dispute . . . requesting validation of the debt and
cessation of further collection activity.” Martin Aff.
¶ 8. It responded on December 5, 2014 by
“order[ing] deletion of the trade line from her credit
report with all reporting agencies.” Id.
¶ 9. And upon receipt on December 22, 2014 of “an
affidavit and letter from [Plaintiff] indicating that fraud
or identity theft was involved in the opening of the account
[it] closed the account and returned it to Comcast.”
Id. ¶ 11. According to its declarant,
“Stellar never communicated directly with [Plaintiff]
either before or after December 1, 2014.” Id.
¶ 10. Nor had Stellar “receive[d] any
communication from a credit reporting agency indicating that
[Plaintiff] disputed the entry that Stellar placed on her
credit report.” Id. ¶ 7.
Plaintiff's Legal Claims
alleges that Steller violated the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), see 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692 et seq., which “covers debt
collectors who ‘regularly collect or attempt to
collect, directly or indirectly, [consumer] debts owed or due
or asserted to be owed or due another.'”
Robinson v. TSYS Total Debt Mgmt., Inc., 447
F.Supp.2d 502, 507 (D. Md. 2006) (quoting Heintz v.
Jenkins, 514 U.S. 291, 294 (1995) (quoting 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692a(6))). For purposes of this discussion, the Court
presumes that Stellar is a debt collector as that term is
defined in 5 U.S.C. § 1692a(6).
Claims I and II, Plaintiff claims that Stellar listed itself
“fraudulently on [her] credit report, ” Compl.
¶ 15, and failed to validate the debt in violation of 15
U.S.C. § 1692g. Id. ¶ 17. Next, Plaintiff
claims that she is entitled to damages under 15 U.S.C. §
1692k. Id. ¶ 19 (Claim III). Lastly, she claims
that Stellar violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692i by
failing to provide its license number and the name(s) of
registered agents authorized to collect debts in the District
of Columbia, such that she is entitled to recover damages.
Id. ¶ 21 (Claim IV). Plaintiff also purports to
bring a civil rights claim against Stellar under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. See id. ¶¶ 15, 17, 19 and 21.
Summary Judgment Standard
Court grants summary judgment “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the Court views the facts in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party. See Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986). Stellar, as the moving party in this case, bears
the “initial responsibility of informing the district
court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those
portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits . . . which it believes demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323 (internal quotation marks omitted). A
material fact is one “that might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law, ” and further, a
court will consider a dispute as genuine if “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Plaintiff
as the nonmoving party must “produce affirmative
evidence supporting the challenged aspects of [her] claims by
affidavit or other competent evidence.” Mulhern v.
Gates, 525 F.Supp.2d 174, 186 (D.D.C. 2007). She cannot
create a genuine dispute by relying on conclusory assertions
without any factual basis in the record. See Ass'n of
Flight Attendants-CWA v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 564
F.3d 462, 465-66 (D.C. Cir. 2009).
Claims I and II
Plaintiff's claims arise under Section 809 of the FDCPA,
see Compl. ¶¶ 15, 17, which is codified at
15 U.S.C. § 1692g. This provision triggers an obligation
on the part of a debt collector who makes an “initial
communication with a consumer in connection with the
collection of any debt” to send a written notice of the
amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed,
notice of the consumer's opportunity to demand
verification of the debt, and a statement that, upon receipt
of the consumer's written request, it would provide the
consumer with the name and address of the original creditor
if different from the current creditor. 15 U.S.C. §
1692g(a). “If the consumer [timely] notifies the debt
collector in writing . . . that the debt . . . is disputed,
or that the consumer requests the name and address of the
original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection
of the debt . . . until the debt collector obtains