Summary judgment rejected in FDCPA claim against MCA Management

By Charmaine Little | May 10, 2019

ST. LOUIS – Both the plaintiff and defendant’s motions for summary judgment were denied by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri’s Eastern Division on May 3 in a case over the collection of an alleged debt.

While plaintiff Nakeitra Grandberry asked the court for summary judgment in her lawsuit against Medidal-Commercial Audit Inc. (doing business as MCA Management), MCA also filed a partial motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment. The court ruled that summary judgment was not proper for either party.

Judge Henry Edward Autrey first addressed MCA’s attempt to dismiss Grandberry’s Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) claim against it. MCA’s argument was that Grandberry didn’t have standing considering Grandberry arguably did not suffer an injury because she did not pay a convenience fee. Autrey said Grandberry has presented "sufficient evidence" that she did suffer an injury because she alleged she could not pay the debt online that MCA said she owed because of an additional $5 convenience fee. Therefore, Autrey ruled she has standing, so MCA’s motion to dismiss was denied.

The court also said neither Grandberry nor MCA are owed summary judgment. Grandberry alleged that the defendant did not actually report her account to any credit bureaus, despite a 15-day notice she believed meant the account would be reported in that time period. The issue of whether MCA truly infringed on the FDCPA via a third party convenience fee "require further development," Autrey wrote.

Grandberry started litigation against MCA with claims that it violated the FDCPA when it allegedly sent her a debt collection letter with a warning it would give her account information to credit bureaus if she didn’t contact MCA within 15 days. Grandberry said not only was the letter “abuse and coercive” but was also “made with the intent of scaring plaintiff into making payment, and that the statement was false and misleading” since MCA allegedly never reported her to bureaus, the ruling states.

Grandberry accused MCA of making customers pay a $5 convenience fee even when they actually make payments via its website. She said this extra fee wasn’t green-lighted in the agreement and that adding it was MCA’s desire to get even more money that Grandberry said she didn’t owe. She alleged she couldn’t pay the debt since she couldn’t afford the $5 fee.

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