In Weakley v. Redline Recovery Services, LLC, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 2787656 (S.D.Cal. 2010), Judge Benitez allowed claims to proceed past the pleadings stage under the FDCPA and Rosenthal Act against a debt collection agency’s individual employees, explaining:
First, it is necessary for the Court to determine whether the term “debt collector” applies to the individual Defendants as well as the agency Defendant, RRS, under both the FDCPA and the RFDCPA. Authority has been split as to whether an individual employee may be held personally liable as a “debt collector” under the FDCPA. “The Sixth Circuit and the majority of district courts that have considered the issue, including all such district courts in the Ninth Circuit, have concluded that employees can be held personally liable under the FDCPA.” Robinson v. Managed Accounts Receivable Corp., 654 F.Supp.2d 1051, 1059 (C.D.Cal.2009) (collecting cases and citing Schwarm v. Craighead, 552 F.Supp.2d 1056, 1070 (E.D.Cal.2008)). Further, the Federal Trade Commission has interpreted the FDCPA’s definition of “debt collector” to include “[e]mployees of a debt collection business, including a corporation, partnership, or other entity whose business is the collection of debts owned another.” Statements of General Policy or Interpretation Staff Commentary On the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 53 Fed.Reg. 50097, 50102 (Dec. 13, 1988); see also Schwarm, 552 F.Supp.2d at 1070 n. 11 (holding that courts “must give substantial deference to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations.” Brannan v. United Student Aid Funds, Inc., 94 F.3d 1260, 1263 (9th Cir.1996) (quoting Thomas Jefferson Univ. v. Shalala, 512 U.S. 504, 512, 114 S.Ct. 2381, 129 L.Ed.2d 405 (1994)). ¶ Under the RFDCPA, the term “debt collector” is defined as “any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly, on behalf of himself or herself or others, engages in debt collection.” Cal. Civ.Code § 1788.2(c). The Robinson court found that, due to the inclusive language of the RFDCPA, “[because] employees of a debt collection corporation may be held personally liable as debt collectors under the federal FDCPA … employees may similarly be held liable under the California FDCPA.” Robinson, 654 F.Supp.2d at 1060 n. 8. Therefore, Plaintiff has plead that Defendants Chates and Hardy, by contacting Plaintiff by telephone on behalf of RRS to collect his alleged debt, are debt collectors under the FDCPA and the RFDCPA.