United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
DONALD L. BROWN, Plaintiff,
SOUTHWEST CREDIT SYSTEMS, L.P., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Casper United States District Judge.
Donald Brown (“Brown”) has filed this lawsuit
pro se alleging violations of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§§ 1692 et seq., the Fair Credit Reporting
Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et
seq., the Massachusetts Fair Debt Collection Act and the
Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”),
Mass. Gen. L. c. 93A. D. 1-1. Over the course of this
litigation, three Defendants have been dismissed by
stipulation, D. 28-30, leaving only Defendant Southwest
Credit Systems, L.P. (“SWC”). SWC has moved for
summary judgment. D. 44. For the reasons stated below, the
Court ALLOWS SWC's motion.
Standard of Review
Court grants summary judgment where there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the undisputed facts
demonstrate that the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A fact is
material if it carries with it the potential to affect the
outcome of the suit under the applicable law.”
Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R. Wireless Corp.,
217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000) (quoting Sánchez
v. Alvarado, 101 F.3d 223, 227 (1st Cir. 1996)). The
movant “bears the burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact.” Carmona v.
Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir. 2000); see
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If
the movant meets its burden, the non-moving party may not
rest on the allegations or denials in her pleadings,
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256
(1986), but “must, with respect to each issue on which
she would bear the burden of proof at trial, demonstrate that
a trier of fact could reasonably resolve that issue in her
favor, ” Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano-
Isern, 605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). “As a
general rule, that requires the production of evidence that
is ‘significant[ly] probative.'” Id.
(alteration in original) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 249). The Court “view[s] the record in the light
most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing reasonable
inferences in his favor.” Noonan v. Staples,
Inc., 556 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2009).
motion for summary judgment is unopposed, the Court “is
still bound to review the case on the merits based on the
uncontroverted facts before [the Court].”
Cordi-Allen v. Halloran, 470 F.3d 25, 28 (1st Cir.
2006) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). “[E]ven an unopposed
motion for summary judgment should not be granted unless the
record discloses that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Rivera-Torres v.
Rey-Hernández, 502 F.3d 7, 13 (1st Cir. 2007)
(citing Vélez v. Awning Windows, Inc., 375
F.3d 35, 42 (1st Cir. 2004)). “In most cases, however,
a party's failure to oppose summary judgment is fatal to
its case.” Ferreira v. Mortg. Elec. Registration
Sys., Inc., 794 F.Supp.2d 297, 301 (D. Mass. 2011)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
Brown did not did not file an opposition or move for
additional time to do so, the Court deems the following
supported facts from SWC's motion for summary judgment to
be admitted. See Stonkus v. City of Brockton Sch.
Dep't, 322 F.3d 97, 102 (1st Cir. 2003) (quoting D.
Mass. L.R. 56.1) (providing that “[m]aterial facts of
record set forth in the statement required to be served by
the moving party will be deemed for purposes of the motion to
be admitted by the opposing parties unless controverted by
the statement required to be served by opposing
parties”) (internal quotation marks omitted).
sent Brown a letter on October 20, 2016 informing him that
his “account ha[d] been assigned to [its] office for
collection” and advising him that absent a response
within 30 days of receipt, SWC would assume the debt was
valid. D. 45-3 at 2. On November 18, 2016, SWC received a
copy of the letter from Brown with the words “Disputed!
No. Calls!” written over the text. D. 45-6 at 2. Brown
included a letter explaining that Comcast had quoted him a
lower price than the one he had been charged and accordingly
“refuse[d] to pay the enclosed bill.” D. 45-6 at
3. He also included a copy of his Comcast bill with
“Disputed” written on it. D. 45-6 at 5. On July
14, 2017, SWC sent Brown another letter advising him that SWC
had received his dispute regarding the debt and confirmed
that his balance was nonetheless due in full at that time. D.
45-4 at 2.
filed this action in state court against four Defendants on
January 8, 2018. D. 1-1. On February 6, 2018, the matter was
removed to this Court. D. 1. Several months later, three
Defendants were dismissed by stipulation, D. 28-30, leaving
SWC as the only remaining Defendant. Accordingly, the only
counts pending before the Court are Counts Eleven through
Fourteen of Brown's complaint, which pertain to SWC. SWC
has now moved for summary judgment. D. 44. Brown, acting
pro se, did not file an opposition. Brown also did
not appear at the noticed and scheduled hearing on November
27, 2018 on this motion. That day, in light of Brown's
failure to appear, the Court took the motion under advisement
on the papers. D. 46.
argues initially that the Court need not conducts a merits
analysis because Brown failed to respond to discovery
requests within the time allotted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 36 and
they are deemed to have admitted that SWC did not commit any
of the violations alleged in the complaint. D. 45 at 2-3.
Although the Court might be justified in doing so,
see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) (indicating that the Court
may issue any “appropriate order” if a party
fails to properly address another party's assertion of
fact as required by Rule 56(c)”); see also
Ferreira, 794 F.Supp.2d at 301, since even under a
merits analysis, the Court concludes that SWC is entitled to
summary judgment, the Court turns now to the merits and need
not reach SWC's alternative basis for granting summary
FDCPA and Massachusetts Fair Debt Collection Act ...