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Robert M. Waldron v. Professional Medical Management

March 13, 2013

ROBERT M. WALDRON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL MANAGEMENT, D/B/A/ FINANCIAL RECOVERIES DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diamond, J.

MEMORANDUM

Debtor Robert M. Waldron alleges that Defendant Professional Medical Management violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when it mailed him a collection letter whose outer envelope bore a computer code symbol. 15 U.S.C. § 1692f. I will grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The material facts are largely undisputed. Defendant-doing business as "Financial Recoveries"-is a debt collection firm. On April 14, 2011, Dantom Systems, Inc. (Defendant's mail service) sent Plaintiff Waldron a collection letter, instructing him to detach and return the top portion with his payment of the amount owed: $100. The letter was enclosed in an envelope. Visible through the transparent pane in the envelope, the letter's top portion included Defendant's return address and this symbol:

Although this symbol might appear cryptic or decorative, it is, in fact, a "Quick Response Code"-a barcode that, when scanned by an appropriately programmed computer, reveals the following embedded letters and numbers: "ONFIRI10,#K#02-3646873-81624188-2-NCOA, RobertMWaldron, 825 Sunnyside Ave., Audubon, PA, 194031822253,94,100.00."

The Parties agree that:

(1) "ONFIRI10" is Dantom's client code;

(2) "#K#02-3646873-81624188-2-NCOA" is a control number Dantom uses in connection with its National Change of Address data service;

(3) "RobertMWaldon, 825 Sunnyside Ave., Audubon, PA, 194031822253" is Plaintiff's name and complete address; and

(4) "94" is Dantom's identifying number for the letter.

The Parties dispute the meaning of the nineteen digits "194031922253,94,100.00." Defendant's representative testified that this is a "number field." (Doc. No. 23, Ex. 4.) Although Plaintiff offers no evidence to contradict this testimony, he nonetheless believes that the final five digits "100.00" represent his unpaid debt. (Doc. No. 24 at 2.)

The QR Code "was purposely made visible through the envelope's window in order to facilitate [Defendant's] ability to efficiently process return mail." (Doc. No. 23 at 2-3.) The Code can be read by many scanner-equipped smart phones and tablet computers with the appropriate scanner application.

Plaintiff believes that given the widespread use of scanner-equipped devices, making the QR Code visible through the transparent pane is the same as placing the embedded data itself on the collection envelope's face. Plaintiff alleges that because that data includes Defendant's internal account number for Plaintiff-"ONFIRI10,#K#02-3646873-81624188-2-NCOA"-and the debt he owes-"194031822253,94,100.00"-Defendant's placement of the Symbol on the envelope's face disclosed private information in violation of the Act. (Doc. No. 24 at 2.) In moving for summary judgment, ...


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