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Reed v. Receivable Recovery Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 19, 2017


         SECTION F



         Before the Court are two motions: (1) Receivable Recovery Services, LLC's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) or 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, for summary judgment; and (2) Saul Reed's cross motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the defendant's motion is DENIED in part (insofar as it seeks dismissal for lack of standing) and GRANTED in part (insofar as it seeks summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff's claims) and the plaintiff's cross motion is DENIED.


         This litigation arises out of allegedly deceptive and abusive debt collection practices used by a third party collector in its effort to recover a debt owed by the plaintiff to an ambulance service provider.

         When Saul Reed was transported by Acadian Ambulance Service in August 2015 to a hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana, he incurred a bill for $1, 556.53. He has never paid Acadian, which engaged Receivable Recovery Services, LLC (RRS) on January 27, 2016 to collect the outstanding debt. On January 27, 2016, RRS mailed to Mr. Reed a written notice, which explained Mr. Reed's rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. Mr. Reed failed to dispute liability for any part of the debt within 30 days.

         On three occasions (February 17 and 19 and March 7, 2016), different RRS collectors spoke briefly with Mr. Reed. The February 17 and March 7[1] calls were recorded. Mr. Reed targets the February 17 call as the source of RRS's abusive conduct. A portion of the transcript[2] reads as follows:

Mr. Reed: Hello.
RRS: Hi, can I speak with Saul Reed?
Mr. Reed: Yes ma'am...
RRS: Hi, it's Ernestine Gill with Receivable Recovery Services. I'm calling...
Mr. Reed: Come again?
RRS: This is Receivable Recovery Services. We have an account from Acadian they placed here for collections. Has a balance of $1, 556.53.
Mr. Reed: For what?
RRS: We're just trying to call you to work out arrangements to get it taken care of. Um...I do have to tell you that this is an attempt to collect a debt by a debt collector. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose. Um... Just let me know how you want to get it taken care of...
Mr. Reed: I hear you but I ain't knowing what you're saying ma'am.
RRS: This is regarding your account for Acadian Ambulance.
Mr. Reed: [unintelligible single syllable response]
RRS: They have a balance that they want to get paid....
Mr. Reed: Well, ma'am, I'm not working at the moment ....[unintelligible mumbling]
RRS: How long have you been...
Mr. Reed: [unintelligible single syllable response]
RRS: How long have you been out of work?
Mr. Reed: [unintelligible mumbling]...Since I come home from the hospital...
RRS: I'm sorry.
Mr. Reed: I had just got released from jail.
RRS: Okay. So how long have you been out of work?
Mr. Reed: Years...
RRS: Years...
Mr. Reed: Two...
RRS: Two years. So how are you paying your bills?
Mr. Reed: Maybe three...I don't know...
RRS: So how are you paying your other bills-your living expenses?
Mr. Reed: How am I what? Payin' my other bills?
RRS: Right, right. How are you paying your bills? I mean the rent, you know, electric bill, the food bill, know, just your basic living expenses? How are those being paid?
Mr. Reed: Ummm...definitely getting' help with that...
RRS: Uh-hum... Who's helping you?
Mr. Reed: But I don't think that nobody goin' to help me with, nothing bills... especially for nothing...$1500 for what? I didn't get any medicine...I don't recall nothing...I don't.
RRS: This was an ambulance ride. The ambulance picked you up from 3007...
Mr. Reed: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, so ma'am there's nothing I can do. Nothin' right at this moment...
RRS: Are you refusing to pay the debt? Cause you owe the debt. You need to do something to pay these guys back....They were there when you needed ‘em
Mr. Reed: I...I...
RRS: and they helped you when you needed them, so you need to do something. Do the right thing. And try to pay these people back for what they did for you.
Mr. Reed: [chuckling]
RRS: At this point, you can laugh it off but it's not a joke...
Mr. Reed: [continued chuckling] 1, 500?
RRS: $1556...
Mr. Reed: [laughing]...You serious? Right...15?...That sound reasonable to you? I'm asking...but...
RRS: That sounds very reasonable. Do you know how expensive an ambulance is? How expensive it is to train an EMT? How expensive the medicines in an ambulance are? Just you stepping inside that ambulance is a good $2, 000, so you got a deal. They cut you a break on this. You know. But you need to do something to pay these people back... So and it's gonna' hit your credit. It's going to affect your credit, so it is not a joking matter. It's something that you need to take seriously. And you need to do something to get it resolved. So I'm going to go ahead on and list it. At this point, it is listed as a refusal to pay, but we will pursue other options and it will get paid one way or another. So we're here to try to work with you voluntarily, but if you think it's a laughing matter, I'm here to tell you that it's not.
Mr. Reed: ...That's not even the point. First off...
RRS: What do you mean?
Mr. Reed: Second off..
RRS: Sir, I have no idea what you are talking about...
Mr. Reed: Don't worry about it...[hangs up]

         Because the recording failed for the February 19 call, Lorena Hooker, the RRS collector who initiated the call with Mr. Reed that day, summarizes the exchange by her affidavit in the summary judgment record:

On February 19, 2016, at approximately 11:43 AM, and while at work at RRS in my capacity as a collector, I spoke by telephone with an individual who identified himself as Mr. Saul Reed. I began our conversation by providing Mr. Reed my name, and the name of my employer, RRS, followed by the “Mini-Miranda” warning required by the [Fair Debt Collection Practices Act] (“This communication is from a debt collector and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.”) I advised him that I was calling in an attempt to collect the $1, 556.53 debt which he owed to Acadian Ambulance Service.
Mr. Reed did not dispute liability for all or any part of his debt during our brief conversation, which lasted less than two minutes.
I asked Mr. Reed whether he was able to pay anything. He seemed unconcerned and replied that he had no money and that there was nothing he could do. He stated that he had no income and had been out of work for some time. At that point, he apparently hung up on me ...

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