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Schore v. Renton Collections, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

May 1, 2018



          John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. No. 7) and Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 8). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion (Dkt. No. 7) and DENIES Defendant's cross-motion (Dkt. No. 8) for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 7, 2017, Plaintiff Chi-Lu Schore received medical treatment at Seattle Emergency Physicians (“SEP”). (Dkt. No. 7-1 at 12.) Schore had health insurance and assumed the procedure was covered. (Id. at 2.) In fact, the procedure was applied to Schore's deductible, and her insurer billed her $412. (Id. at 12.) Schore did not initially pay the bill. (Id. at 2.)

         In early May 2017, Schore received a letter from Defendant Renton Collections, Inc. (“RCI”) that stated her past due account had been “assigned to our office for collection by SEATTLE EMERGENY PHYSNS.” (Id. at 7.) The letter directed Schore to remit payment of $412 to RCI on its website or by mail. (Id.) On May 19, 2017, Schore's husband contacted SEP, confirmed the outstanding debt, and paid off the balance via credit card. (Dkt. No. 7-2 at 2.) To ensure the claim was resolved, Mr. Schore called RCI and notified it of the payment to SEP. (Id.) Despite the Schores' payment, RCI subsequently called them several times attempting to collect the SEP medical debt.[1]

         On August 28, 2017, the Schores sent a letter to RCI challenging the debt. (Dkt. No. 7-1 at 9.) On September 29, 2017, RCI responded by letter, stating it had “contacted the original creditor and confirmed the validity and amount of the debt, [and] whether or not any payments were made.” (Id. at 11.) RCI included an invoice from SEP that showed the balance of $412 had been paid on May 19, 2017. (Id.) Notwithstanding the invoice, RCI wrote that “the amounts are currently due and owing from you” and directed the Schores to remit a $412 payment. (Id.)

         The Schores filed this lawsuit alleging RCI violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., the Washington Collection Agency Act (“WCAA”), Revised Code of Washington § 19.16, et seq., and the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“WCPA”) Revised Code of Washington § 19.86, et seq., by attempting to collect a debt that they already paid. (Dkt. No. 1.) The parties have submitted cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of RCI's liability.


         A. RCI's Request for a Continuance

         RCI asks the Court to grant a continuance pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), if it concludes that summary judgment is premature. (Dkt. No. 8 at 19.) The Court may continue a motion for summary judgment when the nonmoving party sets forth “specified reasons [why] it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition” to summary judgment.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). “A party requesting a continuance pursuant to Rule 56(f) must identify by affidavit the specific facts that further discovery would reveal, and explain why those facts would preclude summary judgment.” Tatum v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 441 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f)).

         RCI has not identified by affidavit the specific facts that additional discovery would reveal or explained how such information would preclude summary judgment. RCI generally states that it has not conducted certain discovery-for example, depositions-but does not explain how the discovery would aid it in opposing summary judgment.[2] (Dkt. No. 11 at 2.) The Court therefore DENIES RCI's motion for a continuance under Rule 56(d).

         B. Summary Judgment Standard

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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). In making such a determination, the Court must view the facts and justifiable inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party “must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (emphasis in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). When the party moving for summary judgment also bears the burden of persuasion at trial, “to prevail on summary judgment it must show that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it.” Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878, 890 (9th Cir. 2008).

         C. ...

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