In Braham v. Automated Accounts, Inc., 2012 WL 554036 (E.D.Wash. 2012), Judge Shea found that a discussion of wage garnishment did not involve threat of an action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken in violation of the FDCPA. Judge Shea included a good discussion of ‘discussion of garnishment’ or ‘discussion of legal process’ claims, finding that the debt collector should prevail on summary judgment. Judge Shea explained:
Here, the Court focuses on whether Ms. Bull’s reference to the garnishment process and legal process violate 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e(4) and (5) and 1692f. Section 1692e states, in pertinent part: “A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section: … (4) The representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action. (5) The threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. And § 1692f prohibits a debt collector from using any false representation, or unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt. Id. § 1692f. ¶ When considering the entirety of the November 2, 2009 conversations, the Court concludes that, even when viewing the evidence in Ms. Braham’s favor, Defendants’ conduct did not violate §§ 1692e(4), 1692e(5), or 1692f. Ms. Bull advised Ms. Braham that due to her late payment Automated Accounts would start the process of garnishment and the legal process. No threat of immediate garnishment or specific legal action was made; rather, Ms. Bull generally cautioned that the process of beginning such action would occur. Because Ms. Braham’s payment was late, Automated Accounts had the legal authority to initiate such processes. And Automated Accounts intended to initiate the legal action as is evidenced by Ms. Bull’s requested assignment of Ms. Braham’s debt from Deaconess. Therefore, Defendants did not violate § 1692e(4) and (5). The Court likewise finds that Ms. Bull did not use any false representation or unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive means to collect the debt; thus, Defendants did not violate § 1692f. ¶ Ms. Braham argues that Ms. Bull did not fully explain what the legal process, or process of garnishment, meant and that it was not Ms. Braham’s “obligation to seek explanation of confusing or misleading [debt collection] language ….“ Gonzales, 660 F.3d at 1062. Yet, there was no specific legal action being taken that needed to be further explained. The Court acknowledges that discussions relating to garnishment could frighten and stress a debtor and that “a literally true statement can still be misleading .” Gonzales, 660 F.3d at 1062; see also Jeter v. Credit Bur., Inc., 760 F.2d 1168, 1178–79 (11th Cir.1985) (recognizing that a lawsuit might cause a debtor “embarrassment, inconvenience, and further expense”). However, Ms. Bull discussed garnishment as part of the legal process to be used once Ms. Braham’s debt payment was late. Ms. Bull did not indicate that Automated Accounts would begin garnishing Ms. Braham’s wages immediately; rather, Ms. Bull cautioned the legal process to do so would be initiated. Prohibiting a debt collector from calmly advising a debtor who is late in her payments that the debt collector will begin the legal process of collecting on the debt, including initiating the legal process to garnish wages, does not serve the FDCPA’s purpose of eliminating “abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e). Furthermore, Ms. Bull’s comments, and the least sophisticated debtor’s willing understanding of such, must be considered in light of Ms. Braham’s subsequent conversation with Mr. Ruiz. Ms. Braham requested that Automated Accounts initiate another draw on her bank account. Mr. Ruiz agreed to do so, and did attempt another draw. This second attempted draw was unsuccessful. Thereafter, Defendants appropriately pursued the legal processes involved in collecting on the debt. Because no FDCPA violation occurred, Defendants are granted summary judgment.