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Bader v. Navient Solutions, LLC

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

June 14, 2019

ABDELRAHMAN F. BADER, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Sharon Johnson Coleman, United States District Judge.

         Abdelrahman Bader brings this action against Navient Solutions, LLC alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) under 47 U.S.C. § 227 and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (“ICFA”) under 815 ILCS 505/1. Currently before the Court is Navient Solutions' motion [25] for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons explained below, Navient Solutions' motion is granted.

         Background

         The following facts are summarized from Bader's complaint and taken as true for the purpose of deciding this motion. Bader is an individual who resides in Burbank, Illinois. Navient Solutions engages in the business of collecting student loans owed or alleged to be owed to other parties. Beginning in August 2017, Bader's cell phone began receiving calls from Navient Solutions. Navient Solutions called Bader's cell phone from several different phone numbers. When Bader would answer the phone, he would notice a five second pause before being connected with a live representative. During these conversations, a representative of Navient Solutions informed Bader that they were calling to collect a debt owed by a “Shavon Smith.” Bader asserts that he told these representatives several times that he was not Shavon Smith and asked them to stop calling him. Despite Bader's request, Navient Solutions continued to call him and left voicemail messages when Bader did not answer.

         Frustrated by the repeated phone calls, Bader mailed a certified letter to Navient Solutions' headquarters demanding that it stopped calling him on October 28, 2017. Navient Solutions received Bader's letter on October 30, 2017. Nevertheless, Navient Solutions continued to call Bader until 2018. Bader alleges that he received at least 105 calls from Navient Solutions seeking Shavon Smith. Bader states that these calls violated the TCPA and ICFA.

         Legal Standard

         A party can move for judgment on the pleadings once the complaint and answer are filed. See Moss v. Martin, 473 F.3d 694, 698 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal citation omitted). A court will only grant a Rule 12(c) motion if there is no doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts to support her claim and the moving party establishes that no material issues of fact exist. See id. Courts apply the same standard for Rule 12(c) motions as is used for motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). See Guise v. BWM Mortg., LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 798 (7th Cir. 2004). When considering a Rule 12(c) motion, the pleadings consist of the complaint, answer, and any written documents used as attachments. See Langone v. Miller, 631 F.Supp.2d 1067, 1070 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (Castillo, J.).

         Discussion

         Telephone Consumer Protection Act Claim

         Navient Solutions argues that this Court should dismiss Count I alleging that Navient Solutions violated the TCPA under 47 U.S.C. § 227 by placing over 105 calls to Bader using an automated telephone dialing system (or “autodialer”). The TCPA prohibits using an autodialer to make unconsented phone calls to numbers assigned to a cellular phone service. See 47 U.S.C. § 227 (b)(1)(A)(iii); see also Pinkus v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc., 319 F.Supp.3d 927, 929 (N.D. Ill. 2018) (Feinerman, J.). Autodilaers are defined under the TCPA as “equipment which has the capacity-(A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1). The FCC has authority to issue regulations to implement the TCPA's requirements. § 227(b)(2); ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, 885 F.3d 687, 693 (D.C. Cir. 2018). Although the FCC declared that equipment that dialed phone numbers from stored lists could qualify as an autodialer, id. at 701, the D.C. Circuit later found that this was an unreasonable expansion that did not accord with the TCPA's statutory text, See id at 699.

         Navient Solutions contends that Bader fails to allege the use of an autodialer. Specifically, Navient Solutions asserts that because Bader does not state that it used a device that had the ability to generate random or sequential numbers and dial such numbers, Bader has not stated a TCPA claim.

         In response, Bader argues that the following factual assertions from his complaint demonstrate that Navient Solutions used an autodialer:

Defendant is “the largest servicer of student loans in the United States” who “engages[s] in the business of collecting or attempting to collect . . . student loans owed or due or asserted to be owed or due to others using the mail and telephone across the country.” “When Plaintiff answers Defendant's phone calls, he experiences a noticeable pause, lasting approximately four to five seconds in length, before [he] is connected with a live representative.”
Due to the incessant nature of [Defendant's] contacts, on October 28, 2017, Plaintiff, sent, via certified mail, a letter to Defendant's headquarters, demanding that Defendant ‘stop calling and harassing [him], '” . . . but “in spite of Plaintiff reiterating his demands to Defendant in ...

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