United States District Court, District of Columbia
A. HOWELL CHIEF JUDGE.
plaintiff, Mary Hall, alleges that the defendant, Southwest
Credit Systems, L.P., violated the Fair Debt Collections
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692
et seq., by reporting to credit bureaus her
purported debt without also communicating that she disputed
the debt. See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. The
defendant has moved for summary judgment, insisting that it
had no reason to know that the reported debt was disputed and
thus had no obligation to report it as such. See
generally Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.'s
Mot.”). Yet, a jury reasonably could find that the
defendant should have known of the dispute, and thus violated
the FDCPA when notifying credit bureaus of the
plaintiff's alleged debt without also alerting the
bureaus to the dispute. Therefore, the defendant's motion
for summary judgment is denied in substantial part.
defendant is a debt collector. See Def.'s Answer
¶ 4, ECF No. 4. On September 3, 2015, the defendant
began an account for “Victoria Hall, ” who, based
on information received from one of the defendant's
customers-Comcast-supposedly had an unpaid debt of $570.36.
Def.'s Mot., Ex. B, Account History at 1, ECF No. 9-2.
According to information the defendant obtained from Comcast,
Victoria Hall lived at 1903 15th Street NW, Apartment 21,
Washington, D.C. 20009-3925. Id.; see also
Def.'s Mot., Ex. C, Comcast Bills at 1, ECF No. 9-2. The
defendant also received Victoria Hall's social security
number. Account History at 1.
on November 2, 2015, the defendant began reporting Victoria
Hall's alleged Comcast debt to credit bureaus.
Id. at 2. Sometime later, the plaintiff discovered
these communications, and, on October 6, 2016, she faxed the
defendant a one-page letter with a subject line reading:
Re: My Southwest Credit Systems, L.P. Account Original
Creditor: Comcast My Name: Mary Hall My SSN: XXX-XX-9052
Mot., Ex. D, Oct. 6, 2016 Ltr. (“Dispute Letter”)
at 2, ECF No. 9-2. The text of the letter stated, in full,
“To Whom It May Concern: I dispute the Southwest Credit
Systems, L.P. collection account on my credit report that has
a balance of $570.00 and an open date of 9/3/2015 and refuse
to pay this account.” Id. “Mary
Hall” signed the letter, which was sent on letterhead
Mary Hall 8712 Oakdale Street Fort Washington, MD 20744.
defendant received the Dispute Letter but did not locate an
associated account. Def.'s Mot., Ex. A, Decl. of Jeff
Hazard (“Def.'s Decl.”) ¶¶ 6-7, ECF
No. 9-2. Consequently, on October 17, 2016,
November 14, 2016, and December 11, 2016, the defendant
re-reported the alleged Comcast debt to credit bureaus
without designating the debt as disputed. See
Account History at 2.
December 22, 2016, the plaintiff's counsel sent the
defendant a second letter, which attached a draft civil
complaint alleging that the defendant violated the FDCPA by
reporting a disputed debt to credit bureaus without marking
the debt as disputed. See generally Def.'s Mot.,
Ex. E, Dec. 22, 2016 Ltr. (“Demand Letter), ECF No.
9-2. Like the Dispute Letter, both the Demand Letter and
attached complaint identified the purported debtor as
“Mary Hall” and Comcast as the creditor.
Id. at 1-2. The draft complaint stated that Mary
Hall “is a resident of the State of the District of
Columbia, residing at 1733 33rd Place, S.E., Washington, DC
20009.” Id. at 2. No. other identifying
information was provided.
receiving the Demand Letter and draft complaint on January 5,
2017, the defendant found the referenced debt. Def.'s
Decl. ¶ 9. On January 10, 2017, the defendant marked
that debt as disputed. Id.; see also
Account History at 2.
December 2017, the plaintiff initiated this action, alleging
that the defendant violated the FDCPA by reporting to credit
bureaus her disputed Comcast debt without also communicating
the dispute. See generally Compl. Following six
months of discovery, the defendant now has moved for summary
judgment. See generally Defs.' Mot.