Savage v. Citibank N.A., et al., Case No. 14-cv-03633-BLE (N.D. Cal. May 12, 2015)
Mr. Savage brought suit against
Citibank, Department Stores National Bank, and FDS Bank after they repeatedly called
him to try to collect a
credit card debt despite his written and verbal requests that they stop contacting him.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Savage alleged that Defendants’ unfair collection
practices violated the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the
Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and constituted
intrusion upon seclusion.
· The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits persons from calling
using automated telephone equipment or an artificial or prerecorded voice
to a cell phone or any service for which the recipient is charged for
the call, or after the consumer says to stop.
· The Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits unfair
and deceptive debt collection practices, including harassing telephone calls.
· Intrusion upon Seclusion occurs where one intentionally intrudes,
physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or
his private affairs where such intrusion would be highly offensive to
a reasonable person.
Here, Mr. Savage alleged that Defendants violated these laws by repeatedly
calling him, including calling him over-100 times in less than one month,
on his cell phone in attempt to collect a debt despite his verbal and
written requests that they stop. In addition to the actual, statutory,
and punitive damages available under those claims, Mr. Savage also sought
Cal. Civ. Code § 3345, which allows senior citizens such as Mr. Savage to recover treble damages
(or three times the amount of damages) where defendants are found to have
violated the law.
Even though the debt being at issue in Mr. Savage’s case concerned
his Macy’s credit card account, Citibank tried to compel arbitration
based upon a credit card agreement between Mr. Savage and Sears relating
to his Sears credit card (issued by Citibank), which provided for arbitration
All claims relating to your account, a prior related account, or our relationship
. . . including Claims regarding the application, enforceability, or interpretation
of this Agreement and this arbitration provision.
Based on this agreement Mr. Savage had with Sears, Citibank argued that
the term “our relationship” covered all interactions between
Citibank and Mr. Savage, regardless of whether it had anything to do with the
Sears credit card account. Judge Freeman of the Northern District of California
(San Jose) rejected Citibank’s argument and found:
there is no basis for concluding that in accepting the Sears card agreements,
Plaintiff consented to arbitrate all claims that could ever arise between
him” and Citibank. According to the Court, to accept Citibank’s
“interpretation that the ‘our relationship’ language
extends to any interaction between Plaintiff and Citi would mean that
one credit card agreement could be used to dictate the parties’
ad infinitum, regardless of the subject matter of their future interactions. That is
an absurd consequence.
As a result, Citibank’s Motion to Compel was denied and Mr. Savage
is currently litigating his claims against it in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose).