In Johnson v. Stephens & Michaels Associates, Inc., 2014 WL 2506253 (N.D.Ohio 2014), Judge Gaughan found no violation of the FDCPA where a message was left on an answering machine but no third party heard it.
For the following reasons, the Court agrees with defendant that summary judgment must be granted. ¶ 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(3) specifically prohibits communication by a debt collector with a consumer “at the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.” Plaintiff does not dispute that there is no evidence that defendant knew or had reason to know that plaintiff’s employer prohibited her from receiving such communication. Instead, plaintiff asks the Court to hold defendant liable for the two workplace communications without such a finding by resorting to general and catch-all provisions of the statute. But, the Court cannot apply the general statutory provisions to conduct which is specifically addressed by the FDCPA. See U.S. v. Kumar, ––– F.3d ––––, 2014 WL 1586427 (6th Cir. April 22, 2014) (citing United States v. Perry, 360 F.3d 519, 535 (6th Cir.2004) (“One of the most basic canons of statutory interpretation is that a more specific provision takes precedence over a more general one.”); Pate v. Huntington Nat. Bank ––– Fed.Appx. ––––, 2014 WL 1099093 (6th Cir. March 20, 2014) (“It is a commonplace of statutory construction that the specific governs the general.”) ¶ Additionally, § 1692c(b) prohibits communication by the debt collector with third parties in connection with the collection of the debt. But, plaintiff admits that no one heard either of the two voice mail messages. Plaintiff maintains that defendant “should have known that there was a real possibility by leaving voice mail messages that they could have been listened to by someone other than [plaintiff].” (Doc. 21 at 11) Nonetheless, no other person heard the voice mails and, therefore, there was no third party communication. Again, because the statute specifically addresses communications with third parties, plaintiff cannot rely on general statutory provisions to find a violation.