In Robin v. Miller and Steeno, P.C., 2014 WL 3734318 (E.D.Mo. 2014), Judge Limbaugh treated an oral Notice of Representation given during a collection call like a Miranda warning, requiring the collector to terminate the call once the Notice was given.
Without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt … if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct communication with the consumer[.] ¶ . . . This Court concludes that defendant violated the plain language of § 1692c(a)(2) of the FDCPA during the telephone conversation with plaintiff on November 21, 2013. After being advised that plaintiff had a bankruptcy attorney with regard to the debt, the Court does not find fault with the inquiry as to a case number for the bankruptcy. The conversation, however, should have ended immediately thereafter. Defend-ant’s questions and comments about setting up a payment plan to avoid further legal action and inquiring as to a telephone number to contact plaintiff constitute prohibited conduct. ¶ Defendant argues that if there was technically a violation, it was de minimis and not the kind of communication that § 1692c(a)(2) was designed to prevent. This argument, however, is not relevant to liability but instead, is an issue for damages. See Lester E. Cox Medical Center, Springfield, Mo. v. Huntsman, 408 F.3d 989, 994 (8th Cir.2005) (noting that for de minimis or technical violations, some courts refuse to award statutory damages). Damages are not an issue in the instant motion. ¶ In a final attempt to avoid liability for the violation, defendant contends that the communication fell within an exception under § 1692c(c). Subsection (c) pertains to a consumer’s written request that a debt collector cease further communication. Certain exceptions are set forth in subsection (c) including notifying the consumer that the debt collector intends to invoke specific remedies. Defendant argues that is what occurred here—that it simply notified plaintiff it might invoke specific remedies, to wit, “further legal action.” Setting aside whether this constitutes notification that it intended to invoke a “specific remedy, “[s]ubsections (a) and (c) are independent prohibitions on communication, triggered by separate and distinct conditions.” Crouch v. J.J. Marshall & Associates, Inc., 1:07CV477, 2007 WL 3173975 (W.D.Mi. Oct.26, 2007). As explained by the district court in Crouch: “Under subsection (a)(2), once a consumer is represented by an attorney and the debt collector has knowledge of that representation, the debt collector may not communicate with that consumer. This does not prohibit the debt collector from communicating with the consumer’s attorney. Subsection (c) prohibits a debt collector from communicating with the consumer if the consumer makes such a request in writing. Because the record does not contain evidence of such a request, Defendant cannot rely on the exceptions listed under (c)(2) and (c)(3). Even if such a request had been made, nothing under subsection (c) suggests the debt collector could communicate directly with a consumer if that consumer was represented by an attorney. Instead, the communication authorized as an ex-ception under subsections (c)(2) and (c)(3) should be sent to the consumer’s attorney.” This Court agrees with that interpretation of subsections (a) and (c) of § 1692c and finds, therefore, that defendant’s argument is unsupported by the text of § 1692.