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Bassett v. I.C. System

June 1, 2010

MICHAEL BASSETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
I.C. SYSTEM, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge

On January 21, 2009, Plaintiff Michael Bassett ("Bassett") filed a three-count First Amended Complaint against Defendant I.C. System, Inc. ("I.C. System") alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., as well as state law claims related to his FDCPA claim. Before the Court is I.C. System's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part I.C. System's motion. Specifically, Bassett's only remaining claim is based on 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(5). The Court also grants I.C. System's motion as to Bassett's emotional distress damages.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Also, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

The purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006). Moreover, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. In addition, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005); see also Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006) ("district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"). Finally, district courts may only consider admissible evidence in assessing summary judgment motions. See Gunville v. Walker, 583 F.3d 979, 985 (7th Cir. 2009). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

Bassett resides at 2 Goose Creek Drive, Bloomington, Illinois. (R. 42-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) I.C. System is a debt collection company with its principal office located in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Id. ¶ 2.) On October 12, 2008, I.C. System called Bassett to collect on a debt that Bassett owed. (Id. ¶ 6.) After the October 12, 2008 telephone call, I.C. System received a check from Bassett dated November 1, 2008 in the amount of $25.00 as a partial payment on the debt. (Id. ¶ 8.) Thereafter, I.C. System did not receive another check from Bassett. (Id. ¶ 9.)

On December 16, 2008, I.C. System called Bassett at 10:30 a.m. and Basset told I.C. System to call him back. (Id. ¶¶ 10-12.) I.C. System did not speak to Bassett again on December 16, 2008. (Id. ¶ 13.)

The next day, December 17, 2008, I.C. System called Bassett about his debt at 9:15 a.m. and Bassett explained that he could not make a payment. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 15.) During this telephone call and another one later that morning, Bassett threatened I.C. System's representatives. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17, 19.) At 4:00 p.m. on December 17, 2008, Basset called I.C. System again and threatened to call a lawyer and have the I.C. System associate fired. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 21.)

On December 18, 2008, I.C. System attempted to reach Bassett multiple times to collect the debt. (Id. ¶ 24.) At that time, I.C. System did not leave a voice mail for Bassett. (Id. ¶ 27.) Bassett contends that he called I.C. System on December 18, 2008 to inform I.C. System that his financial situation had not improved and that he suffered from bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders. (R. 49-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 96.) I.C. System maintains that the telephone conversation of December 18, 2008 did not happen.

After December 18, 2008, Bassett "blocked" his incoming telephone calls, meaning Bassett's telephone would not ring, but the time, date, and caller's phone number would be displayed. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 31, 32.) On December 19, 2008, Bassett contacted attorneys to represent him. (Id. ¶¶ 39, 40.) At no point during the relevant time period did Bassett request in writing that I.C. System stop calling him either before or after he retained counsel. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 51.) Also, prior to the filing of the present lawsuit on January 16, 2009, I.C. System did not know that Bassett was represented by counsel. (Id. ¶ 49.) Meanwhile, it is undisputed that between January 3, 2009 and January 16, 2009, I.C. System placed thirty-one telephone calls to Bassett. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 81.)

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when "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)(2). 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 ...


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