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Dahl v. Kohn Law Firm S.C.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 23, 2019

JUDY DAHL, Plaintiff,
v.
KOHN LAW FIRM S.C., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE

         After plaintiff Judy Dahl allegedly notified her original creditors that she disputed alleged debts, refused to pay them, and demanded they cease contacting her about them, she received two letters from the Kohn Law Firm S.C. concerning some of those same debts. Dahl filed suit, claiming that defendant Kohn Law violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”). Defendant now seeks to dismiss Dahl's complaint, arguing: (1) to trigger the cease-communications protection of § 1692c(c), Dahl needed to contact Kohn Law directly in writing, as knowledge of similar requests to original creditors is insufficient; (2) the letters were not actionable “communications” under the FDCPA because they were informational rather than demands for payment; and (3) even if the letters were “communications, ” they were permissible under § 1692c(c)'s exceptions because they notified Dahl of a remedy Kohn intended to invoke. (Dkt. #9.) Given that the plain text of § 1692(c), the court agrees with at least the first and third arguments, either of which are sufficient to dismiss plaintiff's complaint. Accordingly, the court need not reach the second argument.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         On February 27, 2017, Dahl wrote to TD Bank USA and Discover Financial Services, LLC:

Don't call me anymore at any number. Don't send me any letters. Don't email me. You or your company may not communicate with me at all. Stop all communication with me now for the account noted above. If you had my permission to call or write me, you don't anymore. Stop Buggin me.
I don't owe you nothin' -- especially for the account above.
If you are taking money from my bank account or credit card, that must stop now to[o].

(Cease & Desist Letters (dkt. #1-2) 1, 6; Compl. (dkt. #1) ¶ 6.)

         In September 2017, Kohn Law nevertheless sent Dahl two letters. The second letter provided in relevant part:

This is to notify you that this firm was retained to represent Discover Bank to collect its claim against you for the balance owing on your Discover Card account. Discover has advised us that you have requested no further communications regarding this matter. However, federal law requires that we provide you with the following notices:
* * *
NOTICE: This letter communication is from a debt collector. We are attempting to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, unless you dispute the validity of this debt, or any portion thereof, within thirty days of receiving this notice, we will assume that this debt is valid. If you notify us in writing within the thirty-day period that this debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, we will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment (if any), and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to you. Upon your written request within the thirty-day period, we will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.

(Sept. 19, 2017 Letter (dkt. #1-3) 2.) The first letter concerning a Target credit card is substantially the same, but begins with the sentence “We are writing to notify you that we have been retained by the creditor named above involving your client's Target credit card account.” (Sept. 11, 2017 Letter (dkt. #1-3) 1.)

         Dahl alleges that receipt of these two letters made her “believe that her attempt to exercise her rights under the FDCPA had been futile, and that she did not have the rights Congress had ...


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