Saturday, May 28, 2016

Navient Solutions and Student Assistance Corporation stung for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act: 727 automated phone calls to student debtor's mother!

Navient Solutions, Inc. and Student Assistance Corporation (SAC) got stung last month by a federal district court for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Navient made 249 automated collection calls to Willie McCaskill, a student debtor's mother.  Co-Defendant Student Assistance Corporation made another 478 automated calls to McCaskill's phone number.

As explained by the court, McCaskill is entitled to $500 for each violation, which adds up to $363,500.  In addition, the court will hold a trial to determine whether the defendants violations were wilful, which would entitle to McCaskill to treble damages. Let's hope she wins.

Navient and SAC asserted a goofy defense, which the court rejected. They argued that McCaskill "gave express consent" to being called about her daughter's debt. The court pointed out that Navient presented no evidence showing that McCaskill knowingly released her phone number to the debt collectors or that she had had any contact with them before they started calling. As if any mom would agree to getting bombarded with hundreds of phone calls from her daughter's creditors.

SAC and Navient also argued that McCaskill and her daughter were in an agency relationship, and that the daughter had legal authority to consent to the phone calls on her mother's behalf. But this is what the daughter testified:
You don't give out my mom's number, which is her business. I handle my own business, she handles her own business .. . .She stay over there, and I stay over here.
The court ruled that the defendants identified no evidence that questioned the daughter's testimony. Accordingly, the court granted McCaskill summary judgment on her TCPA claims.

Who is Navient Solutions anyway? Here's how it introduces itself on the web:
Although our name is new, our business is not. For more than 40 years we learned, evolved, and led in loan management, servicing and asset recovery as Sallie Mae®. And now, we continue to lead as Navient, a company dedicated to helping our clients and the people we serve along the path to financial success.
Navient also says "it is committed to fulfilling our role as an active corporate citizen with integrity and transparency." And oh yes. Navient is big into philanthropy, boasting that "[w]e recognize the importance of corporate philanthropy by giving back to our own communities and encouraging employees to volunteer."

Navient sounds like a model corporate citizen.  But if all Navient says about itself is true, why did it make 249 harassing telephone calls to a student debtor's mother?


McCaskill v. Navient Solutions, Inc., No. 8:15-cv-1559-T-33TBM (M.D. Fla. April 6, 2016).

1 comment:

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