Troy K. Scheffler Plaintiff- Appellant
Gurstel Chargo, P.A. Defendant-Appellee
Submitted: May 15, 2018.
from United States District Court for the District of
SHEPHERD, MELLOY, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
Scheffler sued Gurstel Chargo, P.A. ("Gurstel"),
claiming Gurstel violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act ("FDCPA"). The district courtgranted
Gurstel's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.
is a former debt collector who has litigated a number of
FDCPA claims against other debt collectors. Gurstel is a law
firm engaged in debt collection. Scheffler's case against
Gurstel involves a credit card debt for which Gurstel
obtained judgment against Scheffler in 2009, and later
communications between Scheffler and Gurstel.
2014 and 2015, Gurstel mailed Financial One Credit Union a
garnishment notice in an attempt to collect on the judgment.
Each time, Gurstel also mailed a copy of the garnishment
summons to Scheffler, along with a similar cover letter. The
2015 cover letter stated, "These documents were served
upon Financial One Credit Union, on or about August 6, 2015.
If you have any questions, please contact one of our
collection representatives at 800-514-0791." (emphasis
in original). The letter also included what is sometimes
referred to in the industry as a "mini-Miranda"
warning, which stated: "This communication is from a
debt collector and is an attempt to collect a debt. Any
information obtained will be used for that purpose."
September 2015, Scheffler called the telephone number
included in the 2015 cover letter and reached Gurstel
collection representative John Salter. The conversation
quickly drifted toward the underlying debt, prompting
Scheffler to ask, "OK, so what am I gonna do about
that?" In response, Salter broached the possibility of
settling the debt. Scheffler soon told Salter that Scheffler
had sent Gurstel a "cease" letter and suggested
Salter violated its directive. The conversation ended soon
thereafter sued Gurstel in state court and Gurstel removed
the case to federal court. Scheffler's operative
complaint alleged that Gurstel violated his rights under
provisions of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692c(c) and
1692e(10). Section 1692c(c), entitled "Ceasing
communication," states in part:
If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the
consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes
the debt collector to cease further communication with the
consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further
with the consumer with respect to such debt . . . .
FDCPA expressly exempts certain communications, including
those made "to notify the consumer that the debt
collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are
ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor."
Id. at § 1692c(c)(2).
1692e, entitled "False or misleading
misrepresentations," prohibits a debt collector from
using "any false, deceptive, or misleading
representation or means in connection with the collection of
any debt." It is deemed a violation if a debt collector
makes "use of any false representation or deceptive
means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain
information concerning a consumer." Id. at
alleged his rights under § 1692c(c) were violated when,
after receiving his cease letter, Gurstel: (1) sent Scheffler
the garnishment summons cover letter; and (2) tried to
collect the underlying debt during the September phone call.
As to the alleged violation of § 1692e(10), Scheffler
alleged the cover letter to the garnishment summons was part
of a false and deceptive practice under which Gurtsel
"deceives debtor consumers to telephone their business
to discuss a garnishment summons when in fact the telephone
number provided reaches those unable to discuss legal