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Smith v. Simm Associates, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 6, 2019

Jessica Smith, on behalf of Plaintiff and a class, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Simm Associates, Inc., Defendant-Appellee. Ruel Nieto, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Simm Associates, Inc., Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued May 21, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Nos. 17-cv-769, 17-cv-6859 William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge, Virginia M. Kendall, Judge.

          Before Flaum, Kanne, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.

          FLAUM, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         This is the consolidated appeal of two actions under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. In both cases, debt collector Simm Associates, Inc. sent debtors a form letter stating the name of the "original creditor" -Comenity Capital Bank-and the "client"-PayPal Credit. Debtors sued, alleging the letters violate § 1692g(a)(2) because they fail to identify the name of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed. The district courts granted summary judgment for the debt collector. We affirm.

         I. Background

         Defendant-appellee Simm Associates, Inc. ("Simm"), a debt collection agency, sent plaintiff-appellant Jessica Smith a collection letter dated February 23, 2017. The letter includes the following information:

CLIENT: PAYPAL CREDIT[1]

ORIGINAL CREDITOR: Comenity Capital Bank

BALANCE: $484.28

ORIGINATION DATE: 12/10/2013

         The letter also states that, upon the debtor's request, Simm will provide "the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor." (emphasis added).

         Smith filed suit on May 31, 2017 in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated individuals against Simm for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"). Specifically, Smith alleged Simm violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(2) by failing to disclose the current creditor or owner of the debt. She further alleged the letter violates § 1692e because it is false, deceptive, or misleading. The court granted Smith's motion to certify a class of similar persons in Wisconsin who received these same form letters between May 31, 2016 and June 21, 2017. Both parties moved for summary judgment; the district court granted Simm's motion and denied Smith's motion. It held the letter complies with § 1692g(a)(2) because it includes the name of the current creditor who owns the debt-Comenity Capital Bank-and provides further clarification for the unsophisticated consumer by also including "PayPal Credit," so the debtor recognizes the debt. The court held that because there is nothing abusive, unfair, or deceptive about Simm's letter, it does not violate § 1692e either.

         Simm also sent a collection letter to plaintiff-appellant Ruel Nieto dated March 29, 2017. The letter includes the same creditor and client information:

CLIENT: PAYPAL CREDIT

ORIGINAL CREDITOR: Comenity Capital Bank

BALANCE: $4, 588.42

ORIGINATION DATE: 04/11/2008

         It likewise informs Nieto she may request the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.

         Nieto, on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals, sued Simm in the Northern District of Illinois on September 22, 2017. She claimed Simm violated § 1692g(a)(2) of the FDCPA by failing to list the current creditor in the letter. Both parties moved for summary judgment. For the same reasons as in ...


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