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Reed v. IC System, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 10, 2017

LAURA REED, Plaintiff,
IC SYSTEM, INC., Defendant.


          KIM R. GIBSON United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         This is an action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA” or “Act”). Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 37). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff, Laura Reed, alleges that between December 2014 and March 2015, Defendant, a “debt collector” under the Act, “violated [15 U.S.C.] §§ 1692d and 1692d(5) . . . by repeatedly contacting Plaintiff on her cellular telephone, more than eighty-four (84) times over a four (4) month period [beginning in December 2014 and lasting through March 2015], as well as calling multiple times a day.” Compl. ¶ 16(c). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant failed to send her written notification of her rights, along with information about the debt, within five days of its initial communication with her, as required by 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a). Id. at ¶ 12.

         The parties have completed discovery, and the following facts are not in dispute. According to Defendant's Rule 30(b)(6) designee, Michael Zelbitschka, Defendant attempted to reach Plaintiff by calling her and sending her a notice dated December 9, 2014, to the address where she was living at the time. The notice, which was addressed to Plaintiff under her maiden name, stated “[y]our delinquent account has been turned over to this collection agency” and specified the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor. It also advised Plaintiff of her right to dispute the debt. Although Plaintiff claims that she never received the notice, there is no evidence that it was ever returned to Defendant as undeliverable.

         Defendant's account notes reflect that Defendant attempted to call Plaintiff's cell phone 125 times over a span of 135 days, beginning on December 8, 2014, and ending on April 22, 2015. There were 35 days on which Defendant called at least two times, and three days on which Defendant called three times. All of the calls went to Plaintiff's voicemail, and on one occasion, Defendant left a message. According to the account notes, the calls ceased after Plaintiff's attorney wrote a letter to Defendant, requesting that it stop all communication with Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff testified that once she started receiving the calls, [1] she downloaded a cell phone app called “Blocked Calls Get Cash.”[2] From that point on, when Plaintiff received a call on her cell phone, the app “would ask whether it was a personal call [or] whether it was a debt collector or a telemarketer[.]” Once Plaintiff identified the caller, the app would “pop up with another screen saying ‘if this call is illegal it could get you cash for said call.' And then [it would] go away. And from that point on, whatever number that popped up, if you [didn't] want it to call you anymore, it [would] block it.” Plaintiff explained that her phone would “ring for, like, a second or two” before blocking the call, and then the app “would give [her] a notification of a blocked call.” The blocked calls were then logged in the app. Plaintiff testified that she had the option of answering the call before it was blocked, “but most of the time, when [she] got the phone calls, [she was] at work, and [she could not] answer [the phone].” It is undisputed that Plaintiff never requested the name of the creditor in writing or requested that Defendant stop making the calls.

         III. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment may be granted “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). “A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 425 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court's function is not to weigh the evidence, to determine the truth of the matter, or to evaluate credibility. See Montone v. City of Jersey City, et al., 709 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2013). Rather, the Court is only to determine whether the evidence of record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. In evaluating the evidence, the Court must interpret the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 147 (3d Cir. 2007).

         IV. Discussion

         Defendant advances two arguments in support of its motion. First, Defendant argues that Plaintiff lacks Article III standing. Second, Defendant contends that, assuming Plaintiff has standing, she has nonetheless failed to adduce sufficient evidence to support either of her claims under the FDCPA. The Court will begin, as it must, with the question of whether Plaintiff has standing, and then, if necessary, address the remainder of Defendant's contentions.

         A. Standing

         Article III of the United States Constitution limits federal court jurisdiction to actual cases and controversies. See U.S. Const. art. 3, § 2. In every case, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing Article III standing. Winer Family Trust v. Queen, 503 F.3d 319, 325 (3d Cir. 2007). To do so, “a plaintiff must demonstrate ‘(1) an injury-in-fact, (2) a sufficient causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.'” Finkelman v. Nat'l Football League, 810 F.3d 187, 192 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Neale v. Volvo Cars of N. Am., LLC, 794 F.3d 353, 358-59 (3d Cir. 2015)). With respect to the injury-in-fact requirement, “a plaintiff must claim ‘the invasion of a concrete and particularized ...

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