On March 13, 2017, a United States District Court Judge ruled that Navient Solutions, LLC (Navient) did not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when it contacted a consumer on her cell phone regarding a delinquent student loan when calling a cell phone number provided in a different (and subsequent) loan application from the one that was delinquent. The case is Stauffer v. Navient Solutions, LLC (Case No. 15-cv-1542, U.S. District Court, Middle District of PA).
A copy of the court’s Memorandum can be found here.
On April 20, 2010, plaintiff Crystal Stauffer (Stauffer) applied for federal student loans to cover the cost of her education at Everest College. Stauffer executed a master promissory note to obtain the loans. In that document, she authorized the school, the Department of Education (ED or Department), or their respective agents to contact her regarding the loans “at the current or any future number that [she] provide[s] for [her] cellular telephone or other wireless device using automated telephone dialing equipment . . . .” Stauffer provided a telephone number ending in “5039.”
Stauffer executed an unemployment deferment request on February 26, 2012. In the unemployment deferment request, Stauffer again authorized ED, her school, her lender, and any guarantor, to contact her about the loans. Like the 2010 note, the deferment request granted those parties permission to contact Stauffer at the telephone number listed on the request and “any future number” that she provides. However, in this document Stauffer provided a telephone number ending in “1687.”
In early 2014 Stauffer sought additional federal student loans to enroll in courses at a different school, Ashford University. Stauffer executed a second master promissory note on January 10, 2014 to obtain the new loans. Stauffer listed a third telephone number ending in “3005” in the 2014 note. The 2014 note granted permission to the school, ED, and their “agents and contractors” to contact Stauffer concerning her loans at the 3005 number or “any future number” she supplied.
Since May, 2013 Navient had serviced both of Stauffer’s federal student loans pursuant to a contract with the Department of Education. Navient services loans at the account level rather than by individual loan. It uses any telephone number provided by the borrower as a contact number for all loans on the individual’s account.
Navient called the 3005 number on February 14, 2014. During this call, Stauffer requested a student loan deferment. Thereafter, Navient did not call the 3005 number again for more than one year. Beginning in February 2015, Navient attempted to contact Stauffer concerning past-due payments for the 2010 Everest loans.
Between February 19, 2015 and May 26, 2015, Navient called the 3005 number 81 times. Stauffer answered only one of the 81 calls; on May 26, 2015, she spoke with a Navient representative and advised that Navient had dialed an incorrect number. However, Stauffer did not tell Navient to stop calling the 3005 number. Nonetheless, Navient did not call the 3005 number after May 26, 2015.
On August 7, 2015, Stauffer filed this suit against Navient alleging that Navient knowingly violated the TCPA. Stauffer contends that she did not consent to calls at the 3005 number concerning the loans issued in 2010.
Navient filed a motion for summary judgment on July 29, 2016. It was this motion that the court considered.