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Hamilton v. Capio Partners, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 17, 2017

DAVID HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPIO PARTNERS, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. Brooke Jackson, United States District Judge

         This order addresses defendant's motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 28]. For the reasons given below, the motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         This case involves alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Mr. David Hamilton is a Colorado resident and resides in Arapahoe County. ECF No. 1, ¶ 4. Capio Partners, LLC (Capio) is a Texas business that manages and collects accounts receivable for other companies. ECF No. 28 at 4, ¶ 1. Capio purchased Mr. Hamilton's account from CP Medical LLC, and on May 6, 2015 Capio mailed a letter to Mr. Hamilton regarding the account. Id. at 5. The parties do not dispute the contents of the letter or that the letter was the initial communication between the parties. See ECF No. 1, ¶ 10; ECF No. 28 at 5, ¶¶ 5-8. Although the date of receipt is unclear, Mr. Hamilton admits he received the letter. ECF No. 1, ¶ 9. Capio's letter offered to settle its debt claim, stating in relevant part:

We have been authorized to extend to you a special offer of settlement for $180.00. This offer will save you 40%. If you choose to accept this offer, payment must be received in this office on or before 05/21/2015.
This settlement offer and the deadline for accepting it do not in any way affect your right to dispute this debt and request validation of this debt during the 30 days following your receipt of this letter as described on the reverse side. If you do not accept this settlement offer you are not giving up any of your rights regarding this debt.

ECF No. 28, Ex. A, at 1. The back of the letter provided notice of Mr. Hamilton's rights as required by 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a).[1] See ECF No. 28 at 5, ¶ 8; ECF No. 30 at 2.

         On April 4, 2016 Mr. Hamilton filed a complaint alleging that Capio violated the FDCPA. ECF No. 1, ¶ 15. Mr. Hamilton contends that Capio's settlement offer overshadows and is inconsistent with the notice of his rights, violating 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b). Id. ¶ 12.

         On September 7, 2016 Capio filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 28. Capio reads the complaint to raise a claim only under § 1692g(b). See Id. at 14. Capio then asserts that whether a notice is overshadowed or contradicted is question of law, and that as a matter of law the letter did not violate § 1692g(b). Id. at 8. In his brief in opposition to Capio's motion for summary judgment, Mr. Hamilton responds that the issue of overshadowing is a question of fact for the jury. ECF No. 30 at 9. Additionally, Mr. Hamilton argues that his complaint set forth ample facts to state claims for violations of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692d, 1692e, and 1692f. ECF No. 30 at 11-13.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court may grant summary judgment 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). The moving party has the burden to show that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The nonmoving party must “designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324. A fact is material “if under the substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim.” Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A material fact is genuine if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court will examine the factual record and make reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Concrete Works of Colorado, Inc. v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1517 (10th Cir. 1994).

         ANALYSIS

         Congress enacted the FDCPA in 1977 “to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692. The FDCPA regulates interactions between consumer debtors and “debt collectors.” Johnson v. Riddle, 305 F.3d 1107, 1117 (10th Cir. 2002). Accordingly, a defendant can be held liable only if it is a debt collector within the meaning of the FDCPA. James v. Wadas, 724 F.3d 1312, 1315-16 (10th Cir. 2013). The FDCPA defines a debt collector as “any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts . . . .” 15 U.S.C. § 1692a. Capio is in the business of collecting debts and Capio mailed a letter to Mr. Hamilton for the purpose of collecting his debt, so Capio is a debt collector subject to the FDCPA's requirements. See ECF No. 28 at 4-5, ¶¶ 1-5.

         Most courts review FDCPA claims under an objective “least-sophisticated-consumer” standard. See Ferree v. Marianos, 129 F.3d 130, at *1 (10th Cir. 1997) (unpublished); see also Jensen v. Pressler & Pressler, 791 F.3d 413, 419 (3d Cir. 2015); Russell v. Absolute Collection Servs., Inc., 763 F.3d 385, 394 (4th Cir. 2014); LeBlanc v. Unifund CCR Partners, 601 F.3d 1185, 1194 (11th Cir. 2010); Donohue v. Quick Collect, Inc., 592 F.3d 1027, 1033 (9th Cir. 2010); Barany-Snyder v. Weiner, 539 F.3d 327, 333 (6th Cir. 2008); Taylor v. Perrin, Landry, deLaunay & Durand, 103 F.3d 1232, 1236 (5th Cir. 1997); Russell v. Equifax A.R.S.,74 F.3d 30, 34 (2d Cir. 1996); cf. Pollard v. Law Office of Mandy L. Spaulding, 766 F.3d 98, 103 n.4 (1st Cir. 2014) (using a similar ...


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