United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE
November 8, 2016, Defendant James E. Pruett, on behalf of
Defendant Receivables Management Partners, LLC
(“RMP”), sent a dunning letter to Plaintiff,
Shannon Spurlock, in an effort to collect a medical debt.
Plaintiff alleges the letter violates Section 1692e and
1692g(a)(1) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”). Each party has separately moved for
summary judgment. The court, having read and reviewed the
parties' written submissions, the designated evidence,
and the applicable law, now finds summary judgment should be
entered in favor of the Defendants and against the Plaintiff.
facts of this case are undisputed.
incurred delinquent medical debt from Margaret Mary Community
Hospital. (Filing No. 25-3, Deposition of Shannon Spurlock
(“Spurlock Dep.”) at 50-52). The Hospital
assigned Plaintiff's debt to RMP for collection. (Filing
No. 26-2, Affidavit of Jamie Menkedick ¶ 4). RMP hired
Pruett, an attorney, to assist in the collection of the debt.
(Id. ¶ 6). At the time RMP referred the matter
to Pruett, the Hospital alleged that Spurlock had a total
outstanding balance of $4, 231.96. (Id.).
November 8, 2016, Pruett sent Plaintiff a dunning letter.
(Filing No. 1-1, Letter; Filing No. 25-3, Affidavit of James
E. Pruett (“Pruett Aff.”) ¶ 7). The letter
stated that the total amount owed by Plaintiff to Margaret
Mary was $4, 231.96. (See Letter). The letter
accurately reflected the total amount owed on that date.
(Menkedick Aff. ¶ 6).
practice is to forego interest, attorney's fees or any
other charges above or beyond the outstanding balance until
and unless litigation is filed. (Id. ¶ 8).
Before RMP initiates litigation against a consumer, several
criteria must be satisfied. (Id. ¶ 11). First,
RMP must secure permission from its creditor-client to
proceed with suit. Second, RMP verifies the debtor's
employment. Third, RMP performs a bankruptcy scrub to ensure
that the debtor has not recently filed bankruptcy. If these
criteria are satisfied, and if the debtor has not paid the
account, litigation is initiated no less than 35 days after
the initial communication from outside counsel. (Id.
Plaintiff's case, these criteria were satisfied, so RMP
authorized and instructed Pruett to initiate litigation
against Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 15). Pruett filed
suit against Plaintiff in Ripley Superior Court, Small Claims
Division, on December 21, 2016. (Filing No. 1-2, Small Claims
Form). In the Notice of Claim, Pruett, on behalf of RMP,
sought the outstanding balance of $4, 231.96. In addition,
Defendants also sought 8% prejudgment interest on the unpaid
principal amount, totaling $1, 010.04, as well as
attorney's fees, and court costs. (Id.). This
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is required if “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). Where the
facts are undisputed, as in this case, summary judgment is
primary goal of the FDCPA is to protect consumers from
abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection
practices.” Bass v. Stolper, Koritzinsky, Brewster
& Neider, SC, 111 F.3d 1322, 1324 (7th Cir. 1997);
see also Keele v. Wexler, 149 F.3d 589, 594 (7th
Cir. 1998) (“[T]he FDCPA is designed to protect
consumers from the unscrupulous antics of debt collectors,
irrespective of whether a valid debt actually
exists.”). Thus, the FDCPA prohibits a debt collector
from using “any false, deceptive, or misleading
representation or means in connection with the collection of
any debt.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. It also requires
debt collectors to state “the amount of the debt”
they are seeking to collect from the consumer. 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692g(a)(1). The “amount of the debt” must
be stated “‘clearly enough that the recipient is
likely to understand it.'” Williams v. OSI
Educ. Servs., Inc., 505 F.3d 675, 677 (7th Cir. 2007)
(quoting Chuway v. Nat'l Action Fin. Servs.,
Inc., 362 F.3d 944, 948 (7th Cir. 2004)). To ensure
compliance with the Act, the court applies an objective test
and looks at the letter from the perspective of an
“unsophisticated consumer or debtor.”
Id. “The unsophisticated consumer is
‘uninformed, naïve, [and] trusting, ' but
possesses ‘rudimentary knowledge about the financial
world, is wise enough to read collection notices with added
care, possesses reasonable intelligence, and is capable of
making basic logical deductions and inferences.'”
Id. at 678 (quoting Pettit v. Retrieval Masters
Creditors Bureau, Inc., 211 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir.
argues the Defendants violated §§ 1692e(2)(a) and
1692g(a)(1) by failing to include the interest due in the
dunning letter. Second, she argues Defendants violated §
1692e by failing to disclose that interest would continue to
accrue in the future.