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Strouse v. Enhanced Recovery Co. L.L.C.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

July 29, 2013



EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, District Judge.

Alissa Strouse (Plaintiff) brings this action under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA) against Enhanced Recovery Company, L.L.C. (Defendant). Defendant moved for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.


Plaintiff is a resident of Wheaton, Maryland. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. Defendant is a debt-collection company incorporated in Delaware with its principle place of business in Jacksonville, Florida. Id . ¶¶ 2-3. Defendant performs collection activities within Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. Id . ¶ 2.

Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated the FDCPA and the FCEUA because on January 6, 2012, Defendant sent a letter addressed to Plaintiff seeking payment of a $701.28 delinquent Sprint debt to her parent's house in Warminster, Pennsylvania, where she had not resided since April 2010. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. B.

On January 19, 2012, Plaintiff's attorney sent Defendant a letter titled "Dispute of Claims, " indicating that Plaintiff disputed the validity of the debt referenced in the January 6th letter. See id. Ex. C. In the Dispute of Claims, Plaintiff's counsel informed Defendant that all future contact with Plaintiff should be directed to Plaintiff's counsel. Id. at 1. Further, Plaintiff's counsel demanded that Defendant verify the alleged debt by providing a copy of the contract between Plaintiff and Sprint. Id.

On February 2, 2012, an envelope containing nine pages of delinquent billing invoices that named the account holder as "Aliissa Strouse, "[2] residing at a Philadelphia location to which Plaintiff has never been, was received at Plaintiff's parents' residence in Warminster. Id . Exs. D & E. But the letter did not provide Defendant's name on or within the envelope, include the requested Sprint contract, or indicate that it was sent in response to Plaintiff's request. On February 9, 2012, Plaintiff's counsel responded to Defendant by letter, in which she claimed Plaintiff never had a Sprint account and complained that Defendant violated her instruction to cease direct communication with Plaintiff. Id . Ex. F, at 1-2. On February 24, 2012, Plaintiff's counsel sent yet another letter to Defendant, indicating that she had received neither the requested contract nor the "Fraud Package" that, during a phone conversation with Plaintiff's counsel, a Sprint representative promised would be forthcoming. Id . Ex. G. In the letter, Plaintiff's counsel requested that Defendant deliver both documents to her office by March 2, 2012. Id.

But two days earlier, on February 22, 2012, Defendant mailed the Fraud Package, issued through "Sprint Fraud Management, " to Plaintiff's parents' residence, requesting that Plaintiff prove she was not the holder of the account in interest. Id . Ex. H. On the first page, the Fraud Package stated: "This is a debt collector attempting to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose." Id. at 3. Defendant claims that it sent the Fraud Packet "in response to Plaintiff's assertion that she did not own the Account in question" and that the Fraud Packet was part of "an attempt to complete an investigation into Plaintiff's claim that the debt was disputed." Def.'s Mot. Summ J. ¶ 6, ECF No. 18. Plaintiff's counsel again responded by letter to Defendant on February 27, 2012, expressing concern that Defendant sent the Fraud Package to Plaintiff at her parent's house as opposed to Plaintiff's counsel. Id . Ex. I.

On March 6, 2012, Defendant sent a letter to Plaintiff's counsel indicating that the account at issue had been closed. Id . Ex. K. On March 14, 2012, Plaintiff's counsel received a letter from Defendant stating that the agency submitted a deletion request with credit-reporting bureaus to resolve Plaintiff's issue. Id . Ex. L. On March 20, 2012, Plaintiff's counsel received a letter from Sprint's Consumer Finance Services Department indicating that the account balance had been adjusted to $0 and that it made a request to have the reporting removed from credit-reporting bureaus. Compl. Ex. P-14.


On August 6, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint, asserting the following FDCPA claims against Defendant: (1) communicating with third parties in connection with the collection of a debt, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b); (2) contacting Plaintiff after being advised to cease communication, in violation of § 1692c(c); (3) failing to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, in violation of § 1692e(11); and (4) generally unfair and unconscionable means against Plaintiff in attempting to collect a debt which she did not owe, in violation of § 1692f.[3] Further, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant violated the FCEUA. 73 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2270.4(a) (2013).

Defendant responded, claiming that there was no violation of the FDCPA. Answer ¶ 69, ECF No. 8. Defendant further asserted five affirmative defenses. Id. at 9-10. On January 17, 2013, Defendant made a $4000 offer of judgment pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Def.'s Offer of J., ECF No. 17. Plaintiff did not respond.

On March 11, 2013, Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Plaintiff responded. Pl.'s Resp. The matter is now ripe for disposition.


Summary judgment is appropriate if there are no genuine disputes of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd. , 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). A fact is "material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute 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 view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. "After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Pignataro v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J. , 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the ...

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