In McBroom v. Syndicated Office Systems d/b/a Central Financial Control, No. 2:18-cv-00102-JCC, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the debt collector’s motion for summary judgment. The borrower in the case made a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claim stemming from a letter collecting requesting payment for unpaid medical bills.
The borrower or plaintiff in the case, Charles McBroom, received the original medical treatment from Franciscan Medical Group West Seattle (a group that often does business under the name FMG West Seattle). After failing to pay the balance due for his medical treatment, McBroom’s account was placed with a debt collection agency, Central Financial Control, the Defendant in the case. The collection agency sent McBroom a letter when his account was transferred for collections.
The letter McBroom received named FMG Seattle as the relevant facility and listed his account number with the medical facility as well as his patient reference number, the date he received medical service, his account summary and account balance. It also identified Central Financial Control as a debt collector and advised that McBroom’s account had been placed with them for the collection of the balance. It also advised McBroom to contact them for a payment arrangement/financial assistance. The letter also included a second phone number and a website for information about financial assistance. The phone number/website listed for more information on financial assistance belonged to CHI Franciscan Health, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Franciscan Health Systems dba CHI Franciscan Health.
McBroom filed a lawsuit against Central Financial Control alleging that the letter was in violation of FDCPA as it failed to clearly identify the creditor of the debt as required by law and failed to meaningfully convey the name of the creditor as required by law. Central Financial Control responded by moving for summary judgment seeking dismissal of both FDCPA claims McBroom cited.
When evaluating McBroom’s allegations, the Court noted that the letter’s account section listed FMG West Seattle as the only facility and that there was a separate section of the letter discussing amounts owed and services received from FMG West Seattle. They also noted that the letter identified the debt collector as Central Financial Control, directed payments be made to the debt collection company and described McBroom’s account as having been “placed” with the debt collection agency. In addition, the court noted that while CHI Franciscan Health’s contact info was listed near the end of the correspondence, that section was devoted strictly to financial assistance options. The court found that when considering the information provided in the letter, it did not leave any question about the identity of the account’s creditor. The same factors were used by the court in evaluating McBroom’s second claim. The court granted Central Financial Control’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed both FDCPA claims.
If you have questions about how to file an FDCPA claim, please get in touch with the experienced consumer law attorneys at Aronow Law PC today.