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Phox v. NCO Financial Systems, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

October 24, 2014

LARONDA PHOX, Plaintiff,
v.
NCO FINANCIAL SYSTEMS, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

GREG KAYS, District Judge.

This case involves a debt collection. Plaintiff LaRonda Phox alleges that Defendant NCO Financial Systems ("NCO") impermissibly obtained her credit report in the process of collecting upon a debt she owed to another creditor. On February 19, 2014, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a one-count lawsuit in this Court alleging that NCO's actions violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.

Now before the Court is NCO's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 20) and Plaintiff's motion to amend the scheduling order (Doc. 23). Finding no genuine dispute of material fact and that NCO is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Court GRANTS NCO's motion. Having entered summary judgment in NCO's favor, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion as moot.

Undisputed Factual and Procedural Background

The undisputed facts are as follows.[1] NCO is a Pennsylvania-based debt collection agency. As a part of its business practices, NCO keeps a record of debt collection requests, its work on those requests, and all communications to debtors. Due to this policy, NCO kept records regarding the underlying debt at issue in this case.

On October 4, 2012, PACER Service Center ("PACER"), which operates the electronic filing system used by the federal court system, requested NCO collect upon a delinquent account owned by Plaintiff. PACER charges customers for viewing and filing documents, but it does not require them to pay at the time of each transaction. Rather, PACER bills customers for all their transactions conducted over a three-month period. At the time PACER contacted NCO, Plaintiff had accrued $171.29 in fees for viewing documents on the website.

To facilitate its review and collection of this account, NCO obtained Plaintiff's credit report on October 5, 2012, from TransUnion, a major credit-reporting agency. NCO then sent Plaintiff a letter stating that NCO was a debt collector and that it was collecting a debt owed to PACER. On November 8, 2012, Plaintiff called NCO and paid the debt.

On February 19, 2014, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a one-count complaint (the "Complaint") against NCO. As her sole allegation, Plaintiff claims, "[NCO] went into my credit bureau report without [a] permissible purpose and obtained information about me." (Doc. 6 at 2). The Complaint is devoid of any reference to the legal basis for her claim, but her civil coversheet filed in conjunction with the Complaint states that she is bringing her action pursuant to the FCRA and FDCPA.

Standard of Review

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(a). A party who moves for summary judgment bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must scrutinize the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, but "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge." Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)).

Once the moving party has satisfied his or her initial burden, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" in order to establish a genuine issue of fact sufficient to warrant trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, but the nonmoving party "cannot create sham issues of fact in an effort to defeat summary judgment." RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 49 F.3d 399, 402 (8th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 585 (2009)).

Discussion

NCO moves for summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's putative claims, arguing that the undisputed facts entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. On the FCRA claim, NCO argues it accessed Plaintiff's credit report for the FCRA-approved purpose of collecting upon the PACER debt. With respect to the FDCPA claim, NCO contends that its pulling of her credit report does not constitute an abusive, deceptive, or unfair practice as defined under the FDCPA. The Court addresses each claim separately below.

I. NCO is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's FCRA claim because it had a permissible purpose when it ...


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