In Yelin v. Swartz, 2011 WL 1103450 (E.D.Pa. 2011), Judge Buckwalter found that efforts to collect on a renter’s damage to a rental car constituted a ‘debt’ under the FDCPA, explaining:
In this case, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to state an FDCPA claim because the money he owes does not qualify as a “debt” under the statute. (Defs.’ Br. Supp. Mot. Dismiss (“Defs.’ Br.”) 5.) In support of this argument, they cite to Zimmerman v. HBO Affiliate Grp., 834 F.2d 1163 (3d Cir.1987). (Defs.’ Br. 5.) In Zimmerman, the Third Circuit found “that the type of transaction which may give rise to a ‘debt’ as defined in the FDCPA, is the same type of transaction as is dealt with in all other subchapters of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, i.e., one involving the offer or extension of credit to a consumer.” 834 F.2d at 1168. As such, money owed in conjunction with tort liability does not meet the FDCPA’s definition of “debt.” Id. Defendants con-tend that they “were attempting to recover for property damage to [ECRI’s] motor vehicle allegedly caused by Plaintiff’s negligence—a prime example of ‘asserted tort liability’ that the Zimmerman court held is not ‘consumer debt’ for purposes of the FDCPA.” (Defs.’ Br. 5–6.) ¶ As Plaintiff notes, however, Zimmerman’s definition of “debt” was dismissed as dictum by the Third Circuit in Pollice v.. Nat’l Tax Funding, L.P., 225 F.3d 379, 401 (3d Cir.2000). (Pl.’s Resp. Opp’n 7 n. 7.) In Pollice, the court held that “the plain meaning of section 1692a(5) indicates that a ‘debt’ is created whenever a consumer is obligated to pay money as a result of a transaction whose subject is primarily for personal, family or household purposes. No ‘offer or extension of credit’ is required.” 225 F.3d at 401. ¶ Furthermore, contrary to Defendants’ argument, Plaintiff’s alleged financial obligation is not a matter of tort liability. Rather, if Plaintiff is responsible for the damage to the rental car, it is because such a duty was imposed by the rental agreement, which is a contract. Because of the contractual relationship between Plaintiff and ECRI, this case is distinguishable from Hawthorne v. Mac Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367 (11th Cir.1998), which Defendants also cite in support of their argument that Plaintiff’s obligation is not a debt. (Defs.’ Br. 6–7.) In Hawthorne, the appellant was involved in a car accident with a third party, and the appellee attempted to collect damages from the appellant on behalf of the third party’s insurance company. 140 F.3d at 1369. The Eleventh Circuit found that the money that the appellant allegedly owed was not a debt because it did “not arise out of a consumer transaction; it [arose] from a tort. In conducting herself in an allegedly negligent manner that precipitated an accident, [the appellant] engaged in no consumer transaction. She neither purchased nor used goods and services.” Id. at 1371. Although Hawthorne shares factual similarities with present matter, the crucial distinction between the two cases is the legal basis for recovery. In Hawthorne, there was no preexisting relationship—a consumer transaction—between the appellant and the appellee. In the absence of such a transaction, the Eleventh Circuit found that the plaintiff failed to meet the FDCPA’s definition of debt. Here, however, the fact that Plaintiff contracted with ECRI for the use of the rental car establishes the existence of a transaction between the two parties and renders Hawthorne inapposite. ¶ In sum, under the definition of “debt” set forth in the FDCPA and clarified by the Third Circuit in Pollice, it is clear that Plaintiff is a consumer whose obligation arises out of a transaction (the rental agreement) in which the property or services (the use of the rental car) were primarily for personal purposes. Therefore, the Court finds that the money allegedly owed by Plaintiff to ECRI constitutes a “debt” under the FDCPA, and denies Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss this claim.