In Smith v. Hunt & Henriques, 2013 WL 6141416 (N.D.Cal. 2013), Judge Lloyd granted summary judgment to a debt collection law firm who properly validated a debt following a debtor’s demand for validation.
H & H says that it is a law firm that collects outstanding financial obligations referred to it by its clients. (Dkt. 48–1, Hunt Decl. ¶ 2). If necessary, the firm sues debtors who refuse or fail to pay the financial obligations H & H is retained to collect. But before filing any lawsuit, H & H says that it sends at least one pre-suit demand letter to the debtor in an attempt to resolve the matter without litigation. (Id.). ¶ On or about October 12, 2011, Merrick Bank Corporation (Merrick) retained H & H to collect $2,162.64 that remained unpaid on a Visa card for account holder Raymond J. Smith and ending with account number 4158. (Id., ¶¶ 4–5, Ex. A). On October 20, 2011, H & H sent a presuit demand letter to Smith, informing him that Merrick had hired the firm to collect the outstanding balance. (Id.¶ 6, Ex. B). The letter included the notice required by FDCPA § 1692g. ¶ Over a month later, on December 2, 2011, H & H received a letter from Smith requesting validation of the account and stating that he might take legal action. (Id.¶ 7, Ex. C). The letter is dated November 30, 2011 and states that it was “Mailed/Postmarked: 12/1/2012.” (Id.). ¶ On February 7, 2012, H & H responded to Smith by sending him a letter identifying Merrick as the original creditor and H & H’s client; providing the last four digits of the account number; and enclosing a copy of the August 15, 2008 charge off statement confirming the outstanding balance of $2,162.64. (Id.¶ 9, Ex. D). ¶ On March 28, 2012, H & H received a fax from plaintiff dated March 27, 2012. (Id.¶ 11, Ex. E). In it, plaintiff “refused and rejected” the firm’s validation, requested further validation of the account, and threatened legal action. (Id.). ¶ Smith filed the instant lawsuit on August 7, 2012, claiming that H & H failed to properly validate the debt and engaged in fraudulent and deceptive prac-tices in an attempt to collect it. H & H contends that it is entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff fails to present evidence supporting his claims. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants the motion.
The District Court granted summary judgment.
To begin, plaintiff presents no evidence supporting his assertion (or even creating a triable issue) that he is not responsible for the debt or that H & H violated the FDCPA or the RFDCPA. In his responses to defendant’s discovery requests, he stated that he: • would not state any facts establishing that he is not responsible for the balance on the account (Dkt. 49, Lugay Decl., Exs. A and D, Interrogatory No. 1); and •cannot provide documentary evidence that H & H violated the FDCPA or the RFDCPA (Id., Exs. C and F, Document Request Nos. 9–10). ¶ Moreover, FDCPA § 1692g does not require H & H to provide validation within 30 days of a request. Instead, the plain language of the statute requires plaintiff to send his dispute re the validity of the debt within 30 days of his receipt of H & H’s written notice. 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(4). As discussed above, H & H’s initial demand letter contained the notice required by section 1692g. (Dkt. 48–1, Hunt Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. B). “Under the common law Mailbox Rule, proper and timely mailing of a document raises a rebuttable presumption that it is received by the addressee.” Mahon v. Credit Bureau of Placer Cnty., Inc., 171 F.3d 1197, 1202 (9th Cir.1999) (quotations and citations omitted). The record demonstrates that H & H’s initial demand letter was sent on October 20, 2011 from its San Jose, California office to plaintiff’s Post Office box several miles away in Los Gatos, California. (Dkt. 48–1, Hunt Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. B). Plaintiff does not deny receipt of the letter, and the court finds it reasonable to infer that the letter was received by him within, at most, a few days after mailing. Yet, Smith did not send his dispute and validation request to H & H until over 30 days later on December 1, 2011. If a consumer fails to dispute the validity of the debt, or any portion of it, within that 30–day period, “the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector,” 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(3) ––– and plaintiff was advised of that fact in H & H’s October 20, 2011 demand letter. (Id.). At any rate, plaintiff makes no attempt to argue that his validation request was timely. Instead, he persists in his argument that H & H’s verification was untimely because it was not provided within 30 days of his dispute re the debt. Despite plaintiff’s repeated asser-tions to the contrary, the court finds nothing in section 1692g imposing any such requirement on H & H. ¶ Moreover, even assuming Smith timely sent a validation request, the record before the court demonstrates that H & H properly validated the account. Defendant correctly notes that “[a]t the minimum, ‘verification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed.’ ” Clark v. Capital Credit & Collection Services, Inc., 460 F.3d 1162, 1173–74 (9th Cir.2006) (quoting Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 406 (4th Cir.1999)). As discussed above, in response to plaintiff’s validation request, H & H sent him a letter, along with a charge off statement confirming the $2,142.64 owed to Merrick on the account. (Hunt Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. D). This was sufficient to validate the obligation in question.