Judge Rules that Target’s Harassing Debt Collection Calls Crossed the Line

Like millions of people, Catherine Roies-Medeiros had a credit card from Target. And, like millions of people, she got behind on her bills. Unlike most people, however, the mass merchandiser put a, er, target on her back and relentlessly called her about paying the debt.

She ended up suing Target in Massachusetts Superior Court, charging that the corporation violated the state’s debt collection harassment regulations. In court papers, Target admitted to calling Ms. Roies-Medeiros more than twice a week on more than one occasion over the course of four years. That is a violation of Massachusetts state law, which prohibits initiating a communication with a consumer more than twice during a seven-day period.

Over the course of the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the consumer by Lemberg Law, both Target and the consumer filed for summary judgment. Target argued that Ms. Roies-Medeiros sued the wrong company, because it was actually a subsidiary of Target that made the calls. They also argued that, because Target used an automated dialing service, the law didn’t apply to them. Lastly, Target argued that the calls didn’t count if the consumer didn’t pick up the phone. The judge didn’t buy any of those arguments, and so denied Target’s motion for summary judgment. In contrast, the judge ruled that the defendant admitted to enough facts that the court granted the consumer’s motion for summary judgment.

The judge wrote, “Because Target does not dispute that it alleged the plaintiff owed it a debt, it is a proper defendant. Because Target’s use of an automatic dialer system does not create a freestanding means for them to evade the regulation, it is covered by the regulation. And because dialing a phone number is a means by which one initiates a communication via telephone, Target’s conduct is squarely within the regulation. As to the plaintiff’s motion, Target admits to facts sufficient to establish liability; its creative – but in no way persuasive – legal arguments leave it inescapably liable.”

In other words, Ms. Roies-Medeiros won her lawsuit against Target, and Target was found to have violated state debt collection harassment regulations.

 

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