430 F.3d 1078 (9th Cir. 2005), 04-17126, Camacho v. Bridgeport Financial Inc.

Docket Nº:04-17126.
Citation:430 F.3d 1078
Party Name:Rita CAMACHO, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BRIDGEPORT FINANCIAL INC., Defendant-Appellant, and Ray Lewis, Christina Harbridge, Defendants.
Case Date:December 12, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 1078

430 F.3d 1078 (9th Cir. 2005)

Rita CAMACHO, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

BRIDGEPORT FINANCIAL INC., Defendant-Appellant,

and

Ray Lewis, Christina Harbridge, Defendants.

No. 04-17126.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 12, 2005

Argued and Submitted November 14, 2005—San Francisco, California.

Page 1079

Mark E. Ellis, Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney, Sacramento, California, for the defendant-appellant.

Richard J. Rubin, Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California; Charles R. Breyer, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV 04-0478 CRB.

Before: FARRIS, TASHIMA, and CALLAHAN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

TASHIMA, Circuit Judge:

Rita Camacho ("Camacho"), a debtor, sued Bridgeport Financial, Inc. ("Bridgeport Financial"), a debt collector, for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692g and 1692e. Camacho alleges that Bridgeport Financial's initial collection notice, which stated that Camacho could only dispute the validity of the debt in writing, misrepresented Camacho's rights. The district court denied Bridgeport Financial's motion to dismiss, concluding that Camacho had stated a viable claim under the plain meaning of the statute. The district court certified the issue for interlocutory appeal and we granted the petition under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Camacho's debt of $42.57 was assigned to Bridgeport Financial by Into Video.1 In its initial collection communication, Bridgeport Financial included the statement: "Unless you notify this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid." (Emphasis added.) Camacho sued under §§ 1692g and 1692e of the FDCPA, alleging that this statement misrepresented the rights of consumers because it required Camacho to dispute the debt in writing. Bridgeport Financial filed a motion to dismiss the action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that § 1692g(a)(3) implicitly requires disputes to be in writing because only written disputes can invoke the other protections afforded by the FDCPA. The district court rejected Bridgeport Financial's arguments, holding that the plain meaning of § 1692g(a)(3) did not require that disputes be in writing and that this interpretation did not undermine the purpose or destroy the coherence of the statute.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review a district court's decision to grant or deny a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) de novo. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. City of Lodi, 302 F.3d 928, 939 (9th Cir. 2002). We also review questions of statutory interpretation de novo. Romine v. Diversified Collection Servs., Inc., 155 F.3d 1142, 1145 (9th Cir. 1998).

DISCUSSION

The issue before us is whether a collection notice that requires disputes to be set forth in writing violates 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. Under § 1692g(a), a debt collector must send a consumer debtor, within five days of its initial attempt to collect any debt, a written notice containing:

(1) the amount of the debt;

(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;

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(3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty-days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;

(4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and

(5) a statement that upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of...

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