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Prendergast v. First Choice Assets, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 14, 2018

YENMA PRENDERGAST, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRST CHOICE ASSETS, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SARA L.ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant First Choice Assets, LLC (“FCA”) is a debt collector that called Plaintiff Yenma Prendergast twice, attempting to identify her and discuss an outstanding loan they were trying to collect. The FCA employees did not identify their employer nor explain that they were trying to collect a debt during either of the phone calls. Prendergast filed a lawsuit against FCA, arguing that its phone calls violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. The parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment. Because the Court finds that there is no genuine issue of material fact preventing it from determining that FCA's communications with Prendergast violated two provisions of the FDCPA, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of Prendergast with regard to those two violations.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Prendergast incurred a debt with JB Robinson Jewelers (the “Debt”) and stopped paying the account in August 2016. JB Robinson Jewelers sold the Debt to DNF Associates (“DNF”) at some point prior to December 2016. DNF then hired FCA to collect the Debt.

         FCA contacted Prendergast twice regarding the Debt. First, on December 2, 2016, an FCA employee named Louis called Prendergast. Without identifying himself beyond his first name, Louis told Prendergast that he wanted to confirm her address. Prendergast asked Louis for the purpose of his call, and Louis stated “[i]t's in regards to a letter that we are supposed to be mailing.” Doc. 16 ¶ 14. Prendergast again asked Louis why he was calling, and he responded “[w]ell as far as the contents of the document are concerned unfortunately the only way I can disclose them would be if I uh know who I am speaking with first uh and I have to confirm some information uh yea so that's it, either I you know I can mail it to the address we have or its [sic] up to you.” Id. Prendergast responded, “[y]ou can go head and mail it I'm not going to disclose any information.” Id. After the first call, Louis noted in the FCA computer system: “Called Out/Talked to Other: [Prendergast's phone number]- female would not disclose any info whatsoever, wouldn't even say whom she was.” Id. ¶ 16.

         Second, FCA employee Jennifer Heebner[2] called Prendergast on December 6, 2016. Heebner identified herself only by name, and stated that she was calling to “confirm location information for Yenma Prendergast.” Id. ¶ 18. Prendergast asked who was calling, and Heebner repeated only that she was Jennifer Heebner. Id. The conversation continued as follows:

“Yenma: Ok, this is regarding?
Caller: It's for the proper delivery of a required letter for Yenma.
Yenma: And this letter is regarding?
Caller: Um well I the thing is I am not sure who I am speaking to if I know who I am taking [sic] to or if this is Yenma I would be more than happy to let you know what its regarding, but I can can't give out her information, to a third party its [sic] against the law, can I ask who I am speaking with?
Yenma: Ok. This is Yenma.
Caller: Oh ok great than [sic] I would be more than happy to let you know what it is. The address I have on file is 11134 S. Ave. E, Chicago, IL 60617, is that still a good address for you?
Yenma: You can go ahead and send whatever you need to send there.
Caller: Ok cuz there actually has already been a required letter already sent out to that address and we did receive [sic] any type of a response, so that is why we are contacting you directly. Now if you like I can let you know exactly what that letter was regarding but I would first have to confirm the last 4 of your SS for security purposes.
Yenma: I would not I would not like to give that info over the phone
Caller: I have your whole social, if you want Ill. [sic] give you the first 5 but I do need for you to confirm the last 4 ...

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