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Ridgeway v. AR Resources, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 30, 2017

CHRISTINE RIDGEWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
AR RESOURCES, INC., Defendant.

          RC LAW GROUP, PLLC By: Yaakov Saks, Esq. HIGH SWARTZ, LLP By: Mark Fischer, Jr., Esq. Counsel for Defendant.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This is a Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., suit.[1] Plaintiff Ridgeway asserts that she disputed a debt with Defendant AR Resources, Inc., a debt collector, but AR Resources failed to identify the debt as disputed or delete the debt.

         AR Resources moves for summary judgment on the one-count complaint. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion will be denied in part and denied without prejudice in part.

         I.

         In October, 2015, Defendant AR Resources received a one-page letter by fax, with no coversheet. (Fischer, Jr., Cert. Ex. B) At the top of the page, the letter states that it is “FROM:” Plaintiff Christine Ridgeway, and bears Ridgeway's home address in New Jersey. (Id.) No other sender is identified, although the fax header printed on the letter bears a fax number with an area code of 414, and the time stamp is in Mountain Daylight Time.[2] The letter goes on to identify the debt at issue by name on the account (Christine Ridgeway), the last four digits of Ridgeway's social security number, Ridgeway's date of birth, the creditor, and the balance of the debt. (Id.) The remainder of the letter appears to be a boilerplate form stating, among other things, “I dispute this debt.” (Id.) The letter bears the electronic “” signature of Christine Ridgeway. (Id.)

         Ridgeway testified at her deposition that she did not draft the letter. (Ridgeway Dep. p. 6) A “credit repair agency, ” Collection Shield 360 (“CS360”), wrote the letter after Ridgeway called the company. (Id. at p. 6-7) Ridgeway testified that she specifically asked CS360 to dispute the AR Resources debt. (Id. at p. 8, 16)

         The summary judgment record contains a one-page “Collection Shield Service Agreement” electronically signed by both CS360 and Ridgeway. (Fischer, Jr., Cert. Ex. B) The agreement states in relevant part, “I, Christine Ridgeway, hereby authorize, [CS360], to make, receive, sign, endorse, execute, acknowledge, deliver, and process such applications, correspondence, contracts, or agreements to credit reporting agencies and creditors/collection agencies as necessary to improve my credit.” (Id.) The agreement is undated. (Id.)

         II.

         Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that “‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' . . . demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact” and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56).

         An issue is “genuine” if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. “In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence ‘is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'” Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

         Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (“[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”); see also Singletary v. Pa. Dept. of Corr., 266 F.3d 186, 192 n.2 (3d Cir. 2001) (“Although the initial burden is on the summary judgment movant to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ‘the burden on the moving party may be discharged by ‘showing' --that is, pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case' when the nonmoving party bears the ultimate burden of proof.”)(citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325).

         Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A “party opposing summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the . . . pleading[s.]'” Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). For “the non-moving party[ ] to prevail, [that party] must ‘make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” Cooper v. Sniezek, 418 F. App'x 56, 58 (3d Cir. 2011)(citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). Thus, to withstand a ...


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