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Laak v. Quick Collect Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

December 22, 2017

PAUL LAAK, Plaintiff,
v.
QUICK COLLECT, INC., and JESSE CONWAY, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is Defendants' Joint Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 17. Robert Coleman and George Pitcher represent the Defendants. Joshua Trigsted represents Plaintiff. The Court has reviewed the motion and record, has heard arguments from counsel, and is fully informed.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Paul Laak alleges that Defendant Quick Collect, Inc., and Defendant Jesse Conway violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692g, by failing to “effectively convey the disclosure requirement required by 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a).” ECF No. 1, ¶ 10. Defendants move for summary judgment as a matter of law contending that they complied with 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a). ECF No. 17. Defendants argue in the alternative that, even if Defendants had violated the FDCPA, Mr. Laak's claims against both Quick Collect and Conway are barred by the FDCPA's statute of limitations provision. Id. at 8.

         Mr. Laak's claims arise out of a debt that Quick Collect began attempting to collect from Mr. Laak in 2001. ECF No. 17 at 2. On October 12, 2001, Quick Collect sent a formal FDCPA validation notice to Mr. Laak as part of Quick Collect's initial communication with Mr. Laak regarding the debt at issue. Id. The October 12, 2001, FDCPA validation notice contained all of the information required by § 1692g(a) of the FDCPA, including the total amount of the debt and the name of the original creditor. Id.

         Quick Collect obtained a default judgment against Mr. Laak in Lincoln County, Oregon, in 2002. Id. at 3. In 2011, the judgment was renewed for an additional ten years. Id. In 2016, Quick Collect continued their collection attempt on the judgment via garnishment. Id. Jesse Conway, acting as Quick Collect's attorney, sent garnishment papers to Mr. Laak and to Mr. Laak's employer. Id. The garnishment papers did not include a formal FDCPA validation notice. Id.

         Mr. Laak claims that Conway violated the FDCPA by failing to send a FDCPA validation notice within five days of Conway's serving Mr. Laak with the garnishment papers in 2016. ECF No. 1 at 2-4. Mr. Laak also alleges that Quick Collect should be held vicariously liable for Conway's alleged violation. ECF No. 21 at 1. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as a civil action arising under the laws of the United States, because Mr. Laak alleges violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692g.

         DISCUSSION

         Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

         A court may grant summary judgment where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact” of a party's prima facie case, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-33 (1986); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

         The parties agree, and the record reflects, that there is no genuine dispute regarding the material facts of this case. Mr. Laak's claims are based solely on the garnishment papers that he received from Conway in 2016. Conway acknowledges that he did not send a FDCPA validation notice to Mr. Laak with the garnishment papers in 2016. ECF No. 17 at 3.

         The Court needs to determine as a matter of law whether the FDCPA requires a validation notice to be sent by an attorney acting as an agent for a debt collection agency that previously sent a compliant FDCPA validation notice regarding the same debt.

         FDCPA Requirements

         The FDCPA provision at issue, 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a), requires debt collectors to send a notice about challenging the validity of the debt to the consumer within five days of the debt collector's initial communication. Section 1692g(a) provides:

Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing-
(a) the amount of the debt;
(b) the name of the creditor to whom the debt ...

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