United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
AMBER J. CRAMER, Plaintiff,
EQUIFAX INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendant Bay Area Credit
Service, LLC's motion for summary judgment. Doc. 76.
Plaintiff Amber Cramer opposes the motion and it is fully
briefed. For the following reasons, the motion will be
2, 2018, plaintiff filed a six-count complaint against
defendants Equifax Information Services, LLC
(“Equifax”), Bay Area Credit Service, LLC
(“Bay Area”), and Consumer Collection Management,
Inc. (“CCM”) pursuant to the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §§
1681 et seq., the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et
seq., and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
(“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. §§ 227 et
seq. On January 28, 2019, plaintiff filed a joint
stipulation of dismissal with prejudice as to defendant CCM.
Docs. 41, 42. On June 18, 2019, plaintiff filed a stipulation
of dismissal with prejudice as to defendant Equifax, which
the Court construed as a motion for leave to voluntarily
dismiss with prejudice, and granted. Docs. 68, 70. The only
remaining claims in this action are the FDCPA (Count II) and
FCRA (Count IV) claims against defendant Bay Area.
Count II, plaintiff asserts defendant Bay Area violated the
FDCPA by making false, misleading, and deceptive statements
in an effort to collect a debt; continuing to list a debt on
plaintiff's credit report even after it was aware of
facts demonstrating the debt was the result of identity
theft; and using unfair and unconscionable means to collect a
debt. Count II seeks actual damages, statutory damages,
costs, and attorney's fees.
Count IV, plaintiff asserts defendant Bay Area violated the
FCRA by willfully and negligently failing to investigate her
credit dispute and delete the debt from its reports despite
knowing or having reason to know it was inaccurate. Count IV
seeks actual damages, statutory damages, punitive damages,
costs, and attorney's fees.
standards applicable to summary judgment motions are well
settled. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a
court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the
information before the court shows “there is no genuine
issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
initial burden is placed on the moving party. City of Mt.
Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838
F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988) (the moving party has the
burden of clearly establishing the non-existence of any
genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in its
favor). Once this burden is discharged, if the record shows
that no genuine dispute exists, the burden then shifts to the
non-moving party who must set forth affirmative evidence and
specific facts showing there is a genuine dispute on a
material factual issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on the
allegations in her pleadings, but by affidavit and other
evidence must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine
issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
Herring v. Canada Life Assur. Co., 207 F.3d 1026,
1029 (8th Cir. 2000); Allen v. Entergy Corp., 181
F.3d 902, 904 (8th Cir. 2000). The non-moving party
“must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A dispute about a
material fact is “genuine” only “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Herring, 207
F.3d at 1029 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). A
party resisting summary judgment has the burden to designate
the specific facts that create a triable question of fact.
See Crossley v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., 355 F.3d
1112, 1114 (8th Cir. 2004). Self-serving, conclusory
statements without support are not sufficient to defeat
summary judgment. See Conolly v. Clark, 457 F.3d
872, 876 (8th Cir. 2006).
this standard in mind, the Court accepts the facts below as
true for purposes of resolving this motion for summary
December 23, 2016, an individual appeared at St. Alexius
Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri for emergency drug overdose
treatment. This individual provided plaintiff's correct
name, social security number, and date of birth. The address
this individual provided was not where plaintiff then
currently or previously resided. As a result of the
treatment, three separate debts became due to three separate
medical providers: (1) Golden Arch Emergency Physicians
(“Golden Arch”); (2) American Medical Response
(“AMR”); and (3) SLUCare (“SLU”).
After the debts became delinquent, Bay Area was hired by two
medical providers to collect on the Golden Arch and AMR
reviewed her credit score in July of 2017 and discovered the
three delinquent debts. Plaintiff filed a police report with
the Columbia, Missouri Police Department alleging identity
theft. On July 14, 2017, plaintiff received a call on her
cell phone from Roger Rex, a representative of Bay Area. The
telephone transcript evidences that Mr. Rex informed
plaintiff he was attempting to collect a $1, 505.00 debt for
Golden Arch arising out of medical services provided on
December 23, 2016 at St. Alexius Hospital. Plaintiff stated
the charge was a result of fraud and a police report had been
filed. In response, Mr. Rex told plaintiff: “So, no
issues, what I'll do for you is I'll take this as an
identity theft and let my client know that it needs
investigation and needs to be kept on hold.” Doc. 79-6.
The transcript does not reflect a discussion of any debt
other than the one specifically owed to Golden Arch. The AMR
debt was not mentioned by either party. After the July 14,
2017 phone call, Bay Area asserts and plaintiff does not
dispute that Bay Area ceased all efforts to collect on the
debt owed to Golden Arch and never reported the debt to a
consumer reporting agency.
September of 2017, defendant Bay Area first reported the AMR
debt of $792.00 to the three national consumer reporting
agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian (the
“CRAs”). By letter dated November 8, 2017,
plaintiff submitted a written dispute of the AMR debt to the
three CRAs. Plaintiff did not send a copy of the dispute
letter to Bay Area. On November 19, 2017, Bay Area received
an Automated Consumer Dispute Verification from Equifax
forwarding plaintiff's written dispute of the AMR debt.
receipt of a dispute from a CRA, Bay Area's policy is to
match the demographic information of the consumer to the
information on the debt to determine if it is the same
person, including verifying the social security number and
date of birth. When Bay Area received plaintiff's dispute
on November 19, 2017, plaintiff's demographic information
matched the information attached to the AMR debt. Despite the
match, Bay Area ceased its collection efforts. From November
24, 2017 to July 13, 2018, defendant Bay Area continued to
report the AMR debt to the CRAs, but indicated in its reports
that the debt was disputed.