Michigan District Court Holds That Calling Debtor A Liar When Attempting to Collect a Debt is Sufficient to State a Claim under the FDCPA

The District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan recently held that a debt collector's accusation during a telephone call that the debtor was "lying" was sufficient to state a claim under the harassment and abuse provisions of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. In Summers v. Merchants & Medical Credit Corp., 2013 WL 1507529, the Debtor-Plaintiff alleged that a representative of Defendant Merchants & Medical Credit Corporation accused her of "not being honest" and specifically accused her of "lying" about her job during a conversation in which the agent attempted to collect the Plaintiff's unpaid medical bills. The Plaintiff also alleged the Defendant's agent threatened to turn over the collections matter to an attorney if she did not pay. Id. at 1. The Plaintiff's Complaint alleged violations of the harassment and abuse provisions of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., and specifically alleged that the collection agency engaged in "unfair debt collection practices when communicating with her to collect the debt she owed to Hurly Medical Center." Id. at 1. The Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Id. The Court indicated that although the Federal District Courts appeared to be "split on whether merely calling someone a 'liar' gives rise to a valid claim under § 1692d," the Court decided against dismissal, stating "because some courts have found that calling a debtor a 'liar' could make out a claim for harassment under § 1692d," the Complaint's allegations were sufficiently plausible to state a valid claim for relief. For more information on consumer finance litigation topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Posted in: FDCPA, Michigan
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