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Majeski v. I.C. System

January 8, 2010

BRYAN MAJESKI AND DAWN MAJESKI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
I.C. SYSTEM, INC., A MINNESOTA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before this Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Bryan and Dawn Majeski ("Plaintiffs") against I.C. System, Inc. ("Defendant"), alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq ("FDCPA"). Plaintiffs seek summary judgment in their favor on their claims under §§ 1692d, 1692e, 1692f, and 1692g of the Act. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

FACTS

On October 10, 2007, Bryan Majeski brought his daughter, who suffered from a dog bite on the lip, to the office of Dr. Jerry Chow. (Plaintiffs' Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("Pl. SOF") ¶ 5; Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("Def. SOF") ¶ 21.) The Majeskis' daughter underwent plastic surgery on October 11, 2007. (Def. SOF ¶ 21, Response; B. Majeski Dep. 21:2-6.) That day, Bryan Majeski signed a copy of the "Office Policies and Procedures" and an authorization agreement. (Pl. SOF ¶ 5.) The office policy document contains the following clause:

If your account balance is unpaid and overdue after three monthly statements or more and you have not responded to any of our attempts to contact you, your account will be referred to a collection agency (IC Systems, Inc.).... please note that we will only proceed to these measures if you do not respond to our attempts to communicate with you and set up a payment plan. (Pl. Ex. B at 1.) Meanwhile, the authorization agreement states the following:

I accept full responsibility for bill payment to include any amount not covered under my insurance. That in the event collection efforts are necessary and suit filed against me relative to any bills I incur, I agree to pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs of said proceeding incurred by Dr. Chow. All delinquent accounts shall bear the collection fee of nineteen (19%) percent commencing (45) days after you have been billed. (Pl. Ex. B at 3.)

On November 9, 2007, Plaintiffs' insurance company paid down the bulk of their medical bill, leaving an outstanding balance of $293.80. (Def. SOF ¶ 21.) Plaintiffs testified that they only received two billing statements, the first dated November 30th and the second dated December 3rd. (Pl. SOF ¶ 6.) The issuance of any additional bills is a disputed matter. Soon thereafter, around December 27th or 28th, Dr. Chow's office turned Plaintiffs' account over to Defendant for collection. (Pl. SOF ¶ 7.)

On December 28th, Defendant sent Plaintiffs a letter seeking payment of the primary debt, plus a 19% collection fee. (Pl. SOF ¶ 7.) On December 30th, Defendant's employee Tamara McBride called the Majeski residence and a conversation ensued. (Pl. SOF ¶ 8.) Plaintiffs refused to pay the debt and collection fee. (Pl. SOF ¶ 9.) Defendant registered a formal debt dispute from Plaintiffs on January 8, 2008. (Def. SOF ¶ 22.)

In accordance with its debt validation procedures, Defendant obtained documents from Dr. Chow's office allegedly substantiating the debt, sending copies to Plaintiffs on January 22, 2008. (Id.) The following month, Defendant commenced calling Plaintiffs at their home at regular intervals. All told, between December 2007 and June 2008, Defendant called Plaintiffs approximately 67 times.*fn1

Defendant reported Plaintiffs' debt to credit reporting agencies on February 17, 2008. (Def. SOF ¶ 23.) Plaintiffs paid off their primary debt on March 14, 2008. (Pl. SOF ¶ 15; Def Ex. 3 at 0045.) Defendant continued its attempts to collect the 19% collection fee until August 8, 2008, when Dr. Chow's office sent an email requesting that the account be considered settled in full. (Spencer Dep. 106:16-107:3.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant meets this burden, the non-movant must set forth specific facts (a "scintilla of evidence" is insufficient) demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See Schuster v. Lucent Tech., Inc., 327 F.3d 569, 573 (7th Cir. 2003). At summary judgment, the "court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a ...


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