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Pittman v. Wakefield & Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 21, 2017

PAMELA PITTMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
WAKEFIELD & ASSOCIATES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          R. Brooke Jackson United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Wakefield's motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 21. For the reasons stated below the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part defendant's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case. Wakefield is a debt collector that was collecting two consumer debts from plaintiff Pamela Pittman: a medical bill from Pueblo Pathology Group and an electric bill from San Isabel Electric. ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 21 at 1. Wakefield began reporting the medical debt on Ms. Pittman's credit report in November 2014. ECF No. 21 at 2. Ms. Pittman alleges that she disputed this debt with Wakefield by sending a dispute letter dated March 3, 2016 via fax. ECF No. 1 at 2. Upon examination of her credit report in May 2016, Ms. Pittman found that Wakefield had re-reported the medical debt in May 2016 and had failed to list the account as “disputed by customer” despite being required to do so by the FDCPA. Id. Again in September 2016 Ms. Pittman found that Wakefield had re-reported the medical debt in June 2016 without marking it as disputed. Id. at 2-3.

         Wakefield contends that it did not receive Ms. Pittman's March 3, 2016 dispute letter related to the medical debt, but instead that it only received a demand letter related to this debt on June 17, 2016. ECF No. 21 at 2. This June 2016 demand letter, however, referenced Ms. Pittman's March 3, 2016 dispute letter. ECF No. 21-1 at 17. Wakefield stopped reporting both the medical and electric debts on July 4, 2016. ECF No. 21 at 2. Wakefield received an additional dispute letter about the electric bill on July 27, 2016. Id.

         Ms. Pittman filed suit in November 2016, alleging that Wakefield had violated various provisions of the FDCPA, including 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692d, 1692e(2), 1692e(5), 1692e(8), 1692e(10), and 1692f. ECF No. 1 at 3. Section 1629d of the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from harassing, oppressing, or abusing “any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692d. As relevant here, section 1692e(2) prohibits debt collectors from falsely representing “the character, amount, or legal status” of a debt; section 1692e(5) prohibits them from threatening to take an action they cannot legally take; section 1692e(8) prohibits them from communicating false information, “including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed;” and section 1692e(10) prohibits them from using false representations to collect debts. Id. § 1692e. Section 1692f prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or unconscionable means to collect debts. Id. § 1692f.

         Ms. Pittman's complaint did not specify whether she was bringing her claims with respect to the medical debt or the electric debt, but she clarified in her opposition to Wakefield's motion for summary judgment that her dispute was with respect to the medical debt only. ECF No. 24 at 2. Thus, her central argument is that Wakefield violated the FDCPA by failing to mark the medical debt as “disputed” after she disputed it on March 3, 2016. Id. at 11.

         Ms. Pittman provided Wakefield with her Rule 26(a)(1) initial disclosures via email on January 12, 2017, in which she both referenced and attached a copy of her March 3, 2016 dispute letter. ECF No. 24 at 5; ECF No. 24-3 at 2-3. Wakefield served Ms. Pittman with its discovery requests on January 20, 2017, and Ms. Pittman received them on January 27, 2017. ECF No. 21 at 5. The following requests for admissions were included therein:

a. Admit that you did not send a dispute letter to Defendant on March 3, 2016.
b. Admit that you did send a dispute letter to Defendant on July 27, 2016.
c. Admit that the dispute letter you sent on July 27, 2016 was the only dispute letter you sent to Defendant.
d. Admit that you have no evidence you suffered any actual damages as a result of Defendant's alleged conduct.
e. Admit that you have no documented evidence that you suffered any actual damages as a result of ...

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