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Schaffhauser v. Citibank

September 19, 2007

ANNETTE M. SCHAFFHAUSER AND STEVE E. SCHAFFHAUSER, JR., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITIBANK (SOUTH DAKOTA) N.A., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

MEMORANDUM

This case arises out of a dispute over whether Defendant, Citibank (South Dakota) N.A. ("Citibank"), violated the statutory rights of Plaintiffs Annette M. and Steve E. Schaffhauser, Jr. ("Plaintiffs" or "Schaffhausers"), while attempting to collect credit card debt. Plaintiffs claim that Citibank was abusive in its collection practices and seek relief under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 ("FDCPA"), the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, 73 Pa. Stat. § 2270.1 ("FCEUA"), and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 Pa. Stat. § 201-1 ("UTPCPL"). Before the court is Citibank's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 73.) Citibank argues that counts one and two, brought under the FDCPA, must be dismissed because it is a creditor and therefore not subject to the terms of that statute. (Doc. 74 at 2.) Citibank also contends that the Plaintiffs have no legal basis for asserting count three under the FCEUA and UTPCPL. (Id.) Because the court concludes that, as to Citibank, the Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief may granted, the court will grant the instant motion to dismiss.

I. Background

A. Factual Background*fn1

Plaintiffs are husband and wife who reside in Halifax, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 69 ¶ 4.) Plaintiffs applied for, received, and made charges to their Citibank Platinum Select and Sony Citibank Platinum Select credit cards but failed to make timely payments to Citibank. Citibank is a national bank located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Id. ¶ 5.) Citibank attempted to collect amounts due on Plaintiffs' credit card accounts from Plaintiffs. After these efforts were unsuccessful, Citibank hired the Burton Neil law firm and its lawyers to collect the debt owed by Plaintiffs.

Thereafter, the Burton Neil firm filed a civil action in Pennsylvania state court to collect this debt. (Doc. 69 ¶ 15-16.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed separate pro se complaints in this court against all named Defendants*fn2 for engaging in abusive debt collection practices, including the filing of the state court law suit. Plaintiffs thereafter obtained counsel and Citibank moved to dismiss the complaints by Ms. Schaffhauser (Doc. 18) and Mr. Schaffhauser (Doc. 20) and for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 (Doc. 33). Plaintiffs' counsel withdrew (Doc. 52) and their current counsel entered an appearance on their behalf (Doc. 60). Plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint on November 29, 2006. (Doc. 69.) Plaintiffs' amended complaint asserts three claims for relief against all Defendants for abusive debt collection practices under the FDCPA, the FCEUA, and the UTPCPL. (Id.) Citibank filed this motion to dismiss (Doc. 73) and brief in support (Doc. 74) on December 13, 2006. Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition on January 7, 2007. (Doc. 86.) Citibank filed its reply on January 16, 2007. (Doc. 89.) On March 3, 2007, this case was transferred to the undersigned. (Doc. 104.) This matter is ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard: 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

Among other requirements, a sound complaint must set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, - U.S. -, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but a plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" to show entitlement to relief as prescribed by Rule 8(a)(2). Id. at 1965; accord, e.g., Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350(3d Cir. 2005). A defendant may attack a complaint by a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is required to accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint, Erickson v. Pardus, - U.S. -, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and all reasonable inferences permitted by the factual allegations, Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir. 2007), viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007). The court is not, however, "compelled to accept unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences or a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007) (quotations and citations omitted). If the facts alleged are sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" such that the plaintiff's claim is "plausible on its face," a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss.*fn3 Bell Atlantic Corp., 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 1974; Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, - F.3d -, No. 07-2088, 2007 WL 2389795, at *5 (3d Cir. Aug. 23, 2007).

III. Discussion

Plaintiffs allege that Citibank used abusive debt collection practices in violation of the FDCPA, FCEUA, and UTPCPL. The court will address the ...


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