A judge has agreed to a defense motion to dismiss a complaint filed against PECO Energy Company by a customer who alleged the utility violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when company employees repeatedly called him to collect a debt supposedly owed to the defendant.
In a March 8 memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky, sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted a motion by PECO to dismiss the pro se complaint lodged against the company by Joseph Kneipp, who had claimed that PECO representatives called the plaintiff while he was at work on 30 separate occasions to collect a debt that Kneipp asserted was discharged during a prior bankruptcy proceeding.
The ruling comes about a month after oral arguments on the case were heard in Slomsky’s courtroom, the record shows.
In his memorandum, Slomsky wrote that he agreed with PECO’s argument that it cannot be held liable under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it is technically a creditor and not a debt collector.
“The FDCPA … ‘provides a remedy for consumers who are subjected to abusive, deceptive or unfair debt collection practices by debt collectors,’” Slomsky wrote in his analysis. “The FDCPA, however, does not apply to every entity that attempts to collect a debt.”
The jurist wrote that the business of PECO is to provide gas and electric service as a Pennsylvania utility company, and that the defendant is not in business as a collection agency.
“Rather, PECO collects charges in its own name for services it provides,” the memorandum states. “Thus, PECO is a creditor – not a debtor – within the meaning of the FDCPA.”
Slomsky wrote that “while the facts underlying this case are unfortunate, viewing them in the light most favorable to Plaintiff does not show that PECO is a debt collector under the provisions of the FDCPA. Therefore, Plaintiff has not shown that he is entitled to relief against PECO in federal court.”
The judge dismissed the case with prejudice.