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Salinas v. R.A. Rogers, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

June 13, 2019

MARCO SALINAS, individually and on behalf of similarly situated consumers, Plaintiff,
v.
R.A. ROGERS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this date, the Court considered Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 22), Plaintiff's response (docket no. 23), and Defendant's reply (docket no. 24). After careful consideration, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This case stems from Defendant R.A. Rogers's attempt to collect a debt owed by Plaintiff Marco Salinas for a loan from Security Service Federal Credit Union (“SSFCU”). SSFCU turned over collection of this debt to Defendant, and Defendant's subsequent collection effort led to Plaintiff's filing of this suit on July 16, 2018. Docket no. 1.

         On an unknown date, Plaintiff took out a loan for personal, family, and household use from SSFCU. Docket no. 1 at 2. On September 5, 2017, Defendant sent an initial dunning letter in an attempt to collect on this debt. Id. The letter states that the “principle balance” is $4, 629.96 with $0.00 in “fee[s]” and “interest.” Docket no. 23-1. It also states that the total amount due is $4, 629.96 in two other places on the letter. Id. Defendant's letter states, “[i]n the event there is interest or other charges accruing on your account, the amount due may be greater than the amount shown above after the date of this notice.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that this language is false, deceptive, and misleading in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) because Defendant does not collect interest or other charges related to SSFCU and the agreement between Plaintiff and SSFCU does not allow for interest to accrue or other charges to be added. Docket no. 23 at 2-3.

         Plaintiff brings this suit as a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and seeks certification for the class to include “[a]ll consumers within the State of Texas that have received collection letters from Defendant concerning debts from Security Service FCU within one year prior to filing of his complaint which falsely represent to the consumer that interest or other charges may accrue.” Docket no. 1 at 3.

         Defendant now moves for summary judgment on the basis that no reasonable factfinder could find the statement at issue in the 2017 letter violates 15 U.S.C. § 1692 because it is accurate and thus not false, deceptive, or misleading. Defendant agrees that it does not collect interest or other charges on debts referred to it for collection by SSFCU and that the agreement between Plaintiff and SSFCU is silent as to whether interest or other charges could accrue. Docket no. 22 at 4-5. Defendant does not agree that this renders the statement false, deceptive, or misleading because of the conditional language used. Id. at 11.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Applicable Law

         a. Standard of Review

         A party is entitled to summary judgment only if it demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In order to demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact, a movant either has to negate the existence of a material element of the non-movant's claim or defense or point out that the evidence in the record is insufficient when the non-movant bears the burden of proof for that element at trial. Lavespere v. Niagra Machine & Tool Works, Inc., 910 F.2d 167, 178 (5th Cir. 1990). To satisfy its initial responsibility, a movant without the burden of proof at trial need only point out that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-movant's claim to shift the burden to the non-movant to show that summary judgment is not proper. See Fields v. City of S. Hous., 922 F.2d 1183, 1187 (5th Cir. 1991).

         There is a genuine issue of material fact when the evidence allows a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-movant. Rogers v. Bromac Title Servs., L.L.C., 755 F.3d 347, 350 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In order to conclude that no genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must be satisfied that no reasonable trier of fact could have found for the non-movant. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250 n.4. A court on summary judgment must review the summary judgment record taken as a whole, but the court is not permitted to make “credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000). The court must review “all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260, 266 (5th Cir.2010).

         b. FDCPA Standards

         The purpose of the FDCPA is to “eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. Because it is clear that Congress “intended the FDCPA to have a broad remedial scope, ” the FDCPA should be “construed broadly and in favor of the consumer.” Daugherty v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc., 836 F.3d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 2016) (internal citations and quotations omitted). In order to state a claim under § 1692e, (1) the Plaintiff must be a “consumer” under the Act, (2) the defendant must be a “debt collector” under the Act, and (3) the defendant's alleged act or omission must constitute a violation of that provision of the FDCPA. See Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 604 (5th Cir. 2009). Because both parties agree that Plaintiff is a ...


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