United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
S. Shah, United States District Judge.
Jorge Garcia brings a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
claim against Miramed Revenue Group, asserting that Miramed
continued contacting him after his lawyers sent an online
message to stop, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c).
Miramed moves for summary judgment, arguing that Garcia
failed to properly notify it to cease and desist collection
efforts and that if a violation occurred, it was the result
of a bona fide error, for which Miramed cannot be held
liable. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is
judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and he is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine
dispute as to any 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). I construe all disputed
facts in favor of the nonmoving party. Mollet v. City of
Greenfield, 926 F.3d 894, 896 (7th Cir. 2019).
Plaintiff Jorge Garcia failed to pay a debt he owed to
Franciscan Health Chicago Heights, it placed Garcia's
account with Miramed for collection.  at 1-2 ¶¶
To collect, Miramed sent Garcia three letters. Id.
at 2 ¶ 5. Each prominently displayed phone numbers and a
mailing address and stated, “Please Send All
Correspondence, Including Bankruptcy Notices, To: MiraMed
Revenue Group, 360 E. 22nd St., Lombard, IL 60148.”
Id. at 2 ¶ 6. The only website referenced in
the letters was a third-party website where Garcia could make
online payments (www.mmrgpayment.com). Id. at 2
¶ 7. The letters did not provide an email address or
otherwise invite email communications. Id. at 2
September 20, 2017, on behalf of Garcia, Lemberg Law composed
a message on the website www.miramedgs.com/contract-us.
Id. at 9 ¶ 1. The website belonged to Miramed
Global Services, Inc., an affiliate and parent company of
defendant Miramed, Id. at 3 ¶ 11, but it
displayed Miramed's name and logo. Id. at 10
¶ 4. Lemberg Law used Microsoft's snipping tool to
screenshot the contents of the message and saved that
screenshot to its servers. Id. at 9 ¶ 1. The
message identified Garcia's name, asked Miramed to stop
calling Garcia's cell phone, and listed Garcia's
phone number and email address. Id. at 9-10 ¶
2. Upon submission, the website said, “Thank you for
your message!” Id. at 10 ¶
Miramed called Garcia to collect on his debt four times after
September 20. Id. at 10 ¶ 9.
Miramed Global thought that a message submitted on its
website was meant for Miramed, it would forward the message
to Miramed, but there were no policies or procedures in place
to ensure that it did so. See Id. at 8 ¶¶
32-33; 10 ¶¶ 5-6; see also [38-2] at
46:6-16. On average, Miramed Global forwarded a
handful of messages to Miramed per month. [38-2] at 46:17-22.
Miramed Global deleted records of messages submitted through
the website within thirty days of their receipt. Id.
at 10 ¶ 7. When Miramed and Miramed Global checked to
see whether they had any record of Garcia's cease and
desist message, they could not find it on their servers.
Id. at 10 ¶¶ 7-8.
debtor requested that Miramed stop contacting him,
Miramed's policy required it to remove the debtor's
phone number from his account. Id. at 6 ¶
An account representative also added a “do not
call” or “DNC” code in the phone number
field and entered another code to stop letters from being
sent. Id. at 6-7 ¶ 27. Miramed then added a
final XAZ code to close the account, and it trained its
employees not to contact accounts with these codes.
Id. at 7 ¶¶ 28-29. These policies were
part of Miramed's standard operating procedures, which
Miramed provided to all employees. Id. at 7 ¶
November 1, 2017, Garcia's attorney sent Miramed a letter
regarding Garcia's claims. Id. at 8 ¶ 35.
In response, Miramed followed its policies and procedures and
coded Garcia's account to cease and desist
communications. Id. at 9 ¶ 36. Miramed
initiated no further communications after receiving the
letter. Id. at 9 ¶ 37.
FDCPA requires that “[i]f a consumer notifies a debt
collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt
or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease
further communication with the consumer, the debt collector
shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect
to such debt, ” except in certain specific
circumstances. 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c). Miramed argues both
that Garcia did not properly notify it of his request that it
cease communications and that any violation was the result of
a bona fide error.
Bona Fide Error Defense
collector is not liable for a potential violation of the
FDCPA if it was the result of a bona fide error. See
15 U.S.C. § 1692k(c). The bona fide error defense
requires that a defendant show: (1) the presumed FDCPA
violation was unintentional, (2) the violation resulted from
a bona fide error, and (3) it occurred despite procedures
reasonably adapted to avoid such error. Id.; Paz
v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC, 924 F.3d 949, 952
(7th Cir. 2019). Though Miramed has procedures in place to
cease collection efforts once it receives a request ...