United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS EDMONDS, RUSSEL AND LOGUE, P.C. and JEFFREY M. LOGUE
Richard P. Matsch, Senior District Judge.
Pamela Reynolds (““Ms. Reynolds” or “the Plaintiff”) claims that attorney Jeffrey M. Logue and the law firm of Edmonds, Russel and Logue, P.C. (collectively, “the Attorney Defendants”) violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) by wrongly naming her as a defendant in a debt collection action filed on January 30, 2015, on behalf of CollectionCenter, Inc. in the County Court for Boulder County, Colorado, Case No. 2015C30329. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that the filing of that lawsuit was intended to harass, oppress or abuse her in violation of 15 U.S.C. §1692d; that the Attorney Defendants violated §1692e by misrepresenting her name in the complaint, and that they used unfair and unconscionable means to collect the debt in violation of §1692f . (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15 - 20.) The Plaintiff also alleges that the complaint in the Boulder County action violated 15 U.S.C. §1692c, which generally prohibits a debt collector from communicating with non-liable third parties. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.)
The Plaintiff’s FDCPA claims are all premised on allegations that the complaint in the Boulder County collection action mistakenly identified her as the wife of Craig Buckley and wrongly claimed she was liable for his debt to Rocky Mountain Medical Imaging under the Family Expense Doctrine.
In their amended answer, the Attorney Defendants denied liability and asserted ten defenses under the heading of “affirmative defenses.”
The Plaintiff has moved for partial summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the Attorney Defendants’ affirmative defenses. The Attorney Defendants moved for summary judgment of dismissal, arguing that the Plaintiff’s FDCPA claims fail because the Attorney Defendants reasonably relied on information provided to them by their client and the original creditor and their bona fide error defense is established by undisputed facts.
The following facts are undisputed except as otherwise stated:
Rocky Mountain Medical Imaging (“RMMI”) provided services to Craig D. Buckley, and claimed it was owed $322 and $26 for those services, for a total principal amount of $348.00. (Defs.’ Ex. E, Affs. of Indebtedness and Assignment.)
RMMI’s records regarding Craig Buckley’s account included notations about communications with Ms. Reynolds on October 1, 2013 and January 3, 2014, in which Ms. Reynolds was described as Craig Buckley’s spouse. (Defs.’ Ex. B, RMMI client notes.)
RMMI retained CollectionCenter, Inc. (“CollectionCenter”) to collect the amounts owed for the services RMMI provided to Craig Buckley (“the Buckley Debt”). CollectionCenter is a licensed debt collector in the business of collecting consumer debts in Colorado. (Klinger Aff. ¶ 3) CollectionCenter is a “debt collector” as that term is defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6).
CollectionCenter began trying to collect the Buckley Debt in July 2014. In CollectionCenter’s Debtor Account History for the Buckley Debt, Ms. Reynolds was identified as Craig Buckley’s spouse. (Defs.’ Ex. C.)
CollectionCenter retained attorney Jeffrey M. Logue, a partner in the law firm of Edmonds, Russel & Logue, P.C. (now known as Edmonds & Logue, P.C.), to represent CollectionCenter in its efforts to collect the Buckley Debt. (Logue Aff. ¶ 2; see also Klinger Aff. ¶4.)
Mr. Logue and his law firm devote a significant portion of their practice to debt collection. They are “debt collectors” as that term is defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6). Mr. Logue states in an affidavit that Edmonds & Logue trains its employees in collection procedures and the requirements of the FDCPA. (Logue Aff. ¶ 1.)
The Attorney Defendants are often retained by CollectionCenter to collect debts and pursue collection litigation against debtors. The Attorney Defendants had represented RMMI in the past. (Logue Aff. ¶¶ 1-4.)
CollectionCenter provides the Attorney Defendants with access to its computer network, which allows the firm’s attorneys and staff to view CollectonCenter’s account histories. (Logue Aff. ¶ 4.) The Attorney Defendants were able to view CollectionCenter’s Account History for Craig Buckley on CollectionCenter’s network. (Logue Aff. ¶ 6.)
Mr. Logue states in his affidavit that before the Attorney Defendants engage in any efforts to collect a debt on behalf of CollectionCenter, the Attorney Defendants’ practice is to have a member of their staff review CollectionCenter’s debtor account history and identify the responsible parties according to CollectionCenter’s records. It is also the Attorney Defendants’ practice to have the authorizing attorney review CollectionCenter’s debtor account history before any correspondence is sent by an attorney of the firm. (Logue Aff. ¶ 7.)
On October 15, 2014, the Attorney Defendants sent Ms. Reynolds a letter (known as a “validation letter”) which identified the Buckley Debt, offered to verify the debt, and informed Ms. Reynolds of her right to dispute the debt. (Logue Aff. ¶ 11.) The Attorney Defendants did not receive a response from Ms. Reynolds to the letter. (Id.) ...