Valentine & Kebartas, Inc. v. Gary J. Lenahan

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Petitioner appeals the circuit court’s January 15, 2016, that found petitioner violated the WVCCPA, W.Va. Code § 46A-2-125(d). Petitioner called respondent-debtor 253 times over an eight-month period. Petitioner did not answer the first 250 of these calls. The calls occurred as follows: March 10-25, 2012: Twenty-two calls over sixteen days (1.4 calls/day). The circuit court found these calls did not violate § 46A-2-125(d). March 26-28, 2012: Seventeen calls over three days (5.7 calls/day). The circuit court found that these calls did violate § 46A-2-125(d) because petitioner “ramped up” the number of calls to annoy, abuse, or harass the debtor because he would not answer his phone. March 29, 2012 through Nov. 20, 2012: 213 calls over 231 days. (0.96 calls/day). The circuit court made no specific findings regarding these calls which tapered off over time, but nevertheless concluded that they violated § 46A-2-125(d) (the fine for these 213 calls was $69,000) (the total fine was $75,000). Importantly, at a deposition in this matter, the debtor testified that before petitioner ever called him, he was receiving twenty to thirty calls a day from other debt collectors. Therefore, he had stopped answering all such calls before petitioner ever called him. The debtor also testified that he believed petitioner had called him fewer than 100 times.