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Oloko v. Receivable Recovery Services, LLC

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

August 19, 2019

MARLENE SPARROW OLOKO, Plaintiff,
v.
RECEIVABLE RECOVERY SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Marlene Sparrow Oloko (“Oloko”) filed this lawsuit alleging a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”). Oloko specifically asserts that Defendant Receivable Recovery Services, LLC (“RRS”) violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692g by sending two collection letters during the validation period-the second of which overshadowed the validation notice in the initial letter. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the reasons explained below, the Court grants RRS's motion and denies Oloko's motion.

         Background

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Oloko incurred a financial obligation originally owed to Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center for medical expenses, which was placed with RRS for collection. RRS sent Oloko an initial collection letter dated May 8, 2017, and the parties agree that this initial letter complied with 15 U.S.C. § 1692g because it contained a validation notice as required under § 1692g(a). The initial letter also informed Oloko that her account may be reported to the credit bureaus within 45 days from when RRS received the account from Oloko's creditor. Oloko does not base her FDCPA claim on this initial collection letter.

         During the 30-day validation period, RRS sent a second collection letter on June 7, 2017, which was entitled TAX SETTLEMENT and referenced federal tax refunds. At the top of the letter, the amount owed was indicated as: BALANCE: $250.00. The body of this dunning letter stated:

As you may know, special tax refunds are being issued by the Federal government to qualified taxpayers beginning this month.
Your obligation listed above is seriously past due. We recognized that sometimes well-intentioned individuals may get behind on payment due to lack of funds. This tax refund is an opportune time to settle your obligation by applying the refund to your delinquent balance. Please call us immediately to make arrangements for payment which will cease further collection efforts on your account.
Please note that your account may have been reported to a credit reporting agency as unpaid collection. Assuming that you value your credit record, you should pay this outstanding bill immediately to improve your credit file.
If your refund amount is not sufficient to cover your outstanding obligation or you are not due a tax refund, call us immediately to work out a solution before further steps are necessary.
Payment should be made directly to our office. Unfortunately, if you do not make payment in full or acceptable arrangements within the next thirty 30) days, we will assume you do not wish to pay on your obligation and further steps may be required to obtain payment. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.
***This is a communication from a debt collector and is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose.***

         The following tear-off remittance slip was at the bottom of the letter:

         (Image Omitted)

         (R. 1-1, Ex. C, ...


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