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Hagler v. Credit World Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 1, 2014

CHARLES HAGLER, Plaintiff,
v.
CREDIT WORLD SERVICES, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DANIEL D. CRABTREE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Charles Hagler filed this lawsuit against defendant Credit World Services, Inc. under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. Defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (Doc. 27). Plaintiff responded and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 30). For the reasons explained below, the Court grants defendant's motion and denies plaintiff's motion.

I. Uncontroverted Facts

The facts of this case are few and undisputed. Defendant Credit World Services is a debt collector. On June 11, 2013, Bill Jackson, an employee of defendant, called plaintiff and spoke to him about an outstanding debt. After some discussion, plaintiff said that he would have to call defendant back. Defendant waited about a month without hearing from plaintiff. On July 9, 2013, Jackson called plaintiff again, but plaintiff did not answer. Jackson left plaintiff the following voicemail: "Hi, this message is for Charles. Please call Bill Jackson at 913-362-3950 when you get a chance. My extension is like 281. Thank you." Plaintiff argues that the July 9, 2013 voicemail violates several provisions of the FDCPA.

II. Legal Standard

Defendant styles its motion as a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) permits a party to move for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed. However, if "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, " a Rule 12(c) motion "must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Here, defendant presents undisputed facts about the first phone call between Jackson and plaintiff, which were not included in plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 24). As a result, the Court will treat defendant's motion as one for summary judgment. Plaintiff seeks judgment under Rule 56 only, so the Court will apply summary judgment standards to his motion as well.

Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that it is "entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When it applies this standard, the Court views the evidence and draws inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Nahno-Lopez v. Houser, 625 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 2010) (citing Oldenkamp v. United Am. Ins. Co., 619 F.3d 1243, 1245-46 (10th Cir. 2010)). "An issue of fact is genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party' on the issue." Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). "An issue of fact is material' if under the substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim' or defense." Id. (quoting Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248)).

The moving party bears "both the initial burden of production on a motion for summary judgment and the burden of establishing that summary judgment is appropriate as a matter of law." Kannady v. City of Kiowa, 590 F.3d 1161, 1169 (10th Cir. 2010) (citing Trainor v. Apollo Metal Specialties, Inc., 318 F.3d 976, 979 (10th Cir. 2003)). In attempting to meet this burden, the moving party "need not negate the non-movant's claim, but need only point to an absence of evidence to support the non-movant's claim." Id. (citing Sigmon v. CommunityCare HMO, Inc., 234 F.3d 1121, 1125 (10th Cir. 2000)).

If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the non-moving party "may not rest on its pleadings, but must bring forward specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial as to those dispositive matters for which it carries the burden of proof.'" Id. (quoting Jenkins v. Wood, 81 F.3d 988, 990 (10th Cir. 1996)). "To accomplish this, the facts must be identified by reference to affidavits, deposition transcripts, or specific exhibits incorporated therein." Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Thomas v. Wichita Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 968 F.2d 1022, 1024 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1013 (1992)).

Finally, summary judgment is not a "disfavored procedural shortcut." Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). Rather, it is an important procedure "designed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

The Court applies the same standard on cross motions for summary judgment. Each party bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Atl. Richfield Co. v. Farm Credit Bank of Wichita, 226 F.3d 1138, 1148 (10th Cir. 2000). Cross motions for summary judgment "are to be treated separately; the denial of one does not require the grant of another." Buell Cabinet Co., Inc. v. Sudduth, 608 F.2d 431, 433 (10th Cir. 1979). But where the cross motions overlap, the Court may address the legal arguments together. Berges v. Standard Ins. Co., 704 F.Supp.2d 1149, 1155 (D. Kan. 2010) (citation omitted). In this case, the legal issues and arguments presented by each summary judgment motion are almost identical. Therefore, the Court addresses the legal issues together.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff contends that defendant violated three statutory provisions of the FDCPA because the July 9, 2013 voicemail from defendant:

A. failed to disclose meaningfully the caller's identity, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(6);
B. failed to disclose that a debt collector had left the voicemail, in violation of 15 ...

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