Navient Wins Summary Judgment: Court Confirms Calls to Collect Government-Backed Debt Exempt From TCPA
In a recently published decision, a federal court granted student loan processor Navient’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that a statutory exception that makes calls solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States are not subject to the TCPA. In Gaza v. Navient Solutions, LLC., 2019 U.S. Dist. Lexis 39773, (M.D. Fla. Jan 23, 2019), Plaintiff Jason Gaza obtained two federal student loans to attend college, and signed a promissory note which clearly indicated that the loan debt was owed to the U.S. Department of Education. The promissory note also expressly authorized the school, the Department of Education and their respective agents and contractors to make calls using ATDS equipment to Gaza’s cellular telephone to collect the debt in case payments were missed.
After Plaintiff failed to make required monthly payments, Navient called Gaza’s cell phone in an attempt to collect the student loan debt. Gaza subsequently revoked his consent to receive automated call debt collection calls. Angered, Jason Gaza filed suit, alleging that Navient’s calls violated the TCPA.
Navient sought summary judgment on the ground that its communications with Gaza were exempt from the requirements of the TCPA because the loan for which the calls were made was owed to or guaranteed by the United States. The court agreed with Navient, finding that the exception contained in 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) exempts a call “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States[.]” Accordingly, Navient could not be held liable for calling Gaza on his cell phone to collect his delinquent student loans, and Gaza could not stop the calls simply by revoking his consent.