The Missouri Supreme Court recently reversed a judgment for a debt buyer for failing to provide competent evidence that it owned the debt on which it sued. In CACH, L.L.C. v. Askew, the debt buyer, CACH, L.L.C. offered the testimony of an employee of a corporation that owned CACH. CACH had no employees. The employee testified that. Providian Bank, a notorious credit card fee harvester, extended a credit card account to the defendant consumer. She also testified that Providian was acquired by Washington Mutual, a bank, which sold the account to Worldwide Asset Purchasing II, L.L.C., a debt buyer, which sold the account to CACH. She testified that she had no personal knowledge of these events and offered business records from the prior debt buyer. However, the witness could not claim familiarity with the assignor debt buyer’s procedures for creating business records. The consumer asserted that CACH failed to establish standing because of the foundation laid by the witness for CACH to show the chain of title was inadequate.
The Missouri Supreme Court agreed:
All of the requirements of §490.680 must be satisfied for a record to be admitted as competent evidence….To satisfy these requirements, the records “custodian” or “other qualified witness” has to testify to the record’s identity, mode of preparation, and that it was made in the regular course of business, at or near the time of the event that it records….For that reason, a document that is prepared by one business cannot qualify for the business records exception merely based on another business’s records custodian testifying that it appears in the files of the business that did not create the record.
To be a “qualified witness” who can lay the foundation for a business record pursuant to §490.680, Eakins [the records custodian] must have “sufficient knowledge of the business operation and methods of keeping records of the business to give the records probity.” … Eakins’ testimony was insufficient to meet this burden… Eakins lacked sufficient knowledge of when or how Exhibit 7 was prepared.
….Eakins failed to demonstrate that she had any knowledge of the standard procedures used by either Providian, Washington Mutual, or Worldwide.