Court Grants Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant Debt Collector in a FDCPA Case Concerning a Disputed Debt


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In Burns v. Keybridge Med. Revenue Care, No. 2:20-cv-12732 (E.D. Mich. July 22, 2021), the Eastern District of Michigan granted summary judgment in favor of a debt collector, holding that it did not violate the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) by failing to report that the plaintiff disputed the debt at issue.

The facts of the case are as follows: defendant Keybridge Medical Revenue Care (Keybridge) obtained a debt of $40.00 to collect from plaintiff, Florence Burns (Burns). Burns disputed the validity of the debt with the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), who sent notice of the dispute to Keybridge in March 2020. In responding to the CRAs, Keybridge reported the account as being disputed by the consumer. A month later, Keybridge received a letter from Burns in which she formally disputed the debt. After several failed attempts to contact the original creditor to verify the debt, Keybridge requested that the CRAs delete the reporting related to the disputed debt.

Burns filed suit alleging that Keybridge violated § 1692e(8) of the FDCPA by failing to communicate that she disputed the debt after receiving her letter in April 2020.

The court granted summary judgment in favor of Keybridge, finding that no violation occurred. In reaching this decision, it noted that, although the FDCPA does not establish any time limit for reporting a disputed debt, courts in the Eastern District of Michigan have routinely found that reporting a debt as disputed within a month of receiving a dispute satisfies the requirements of § 1692e. The response code “XB” plainly marks a debt as disputed. Because Keybridge reported the debt at issue using this response code 17 days after initially receiving notice of Burns’s dispute, the court held that no violation of § 1692e occurred. Further, it found that the alleged failure to again report the debt as disputed after receipt of the April 2020 letter was irrelevant because Keybridge “had accurately reported the debt as disputed the month before,” and subsequently requested that the CRAs delete the disputed debt.

Additionally, the court rejected Burns’s argument that a question of fact existed as to whether a violation occurred because the evidence showed that one of the CRAs failed to mark the debt as disputed after the dispute was reported to Keybridge. Rather than supporting a finding of liability, it held that this “suggests only that [the CRA] – not the defendant – failed to mark the debt as disputed.”