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Eaton v. Citibank

March 15, 2010

BRENDA EATON, PLAINTIFF
v.
CITIBANK (SOUTH DAKOTA), N.A., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James M. Munley United States District Court

(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 26). Having been fully briefed, the matter is ripe for disposition.

Background

This case arises from a credit card issued to the plaintiff by Defendant Citibank (South Dakota), N.A. ("Citibank"). According to plaintiff's second amended complaint, from 2006 until the filing of the amended complaint in September 2009, Citibank attempted to collect from plaintiff a debt owed on a credit card. (Amended Complt. (Doc. 20) at ¶ 8). Plaintiff disputed the amount owed Citibank, contending that the charges were "excessive." (Id. at ¶ 9). On October 28, 2006, plaintiff sent defendant "an accord and satisfaction letter" and a "settlement check." (Id. at ¶ 10). She alleges that this payment was "in lieu of settlement of the account." (Id.). Defendant accepted and cashed that check. (Id. at ¶ 11). Plaintiff insists that defendant accepted the check as payment in full for the account by cashing her check, and that under Pennsylvania law she is no longer indebted to the defendant.

(Id. at ¶¶ 12, 16-19).

Plaintiff's attorney sent defendant a letter on February 15, 2007. (Id. at ¶ 20). This letter informed defendant that plaintiff's account had been settled in full and demanded that defendant correct plaintiff's credit report to reflect that fact. (Id. at ¶ 20). Defendant received and acknowledged that letter. (Id. at ¶ 21). Despite this letter, defendant refused to correct plaintiff's credit report to reflect satisfaction of the debt. (Id. at ¶ 22). Defendant wrote plaintiff on March 3, 2007 to reflect this fact. (Id. at ¶ 23). Plaintiff contends that defendant continues to refuse to correct her credit report, and continues to make erroneous reports to the credit bureaus. (Id. at ¶ 25).

Plaintiff's complaint contains two counts. Count I alleges that defendant violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, by continuing to report plaintiff's debt to credit report agencies after she allegedly satisfied it. Count II contends that defendant engaged in an unlawful attempt to collect a debt by continuing to report plaintiff's account as delinquent to credit reporting agencies. Such actions allegedly violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade and Consumer Protection Act, 73 P.S. § 201, and the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, 73 P.S. § 2270.

Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim on October 19, 2009. (See Doc. 24). The counterclaim alleges that plaintiff's claim arises from a Sears MasterCard credit card issued in plaintiff's name. (Id. at Counterclaim ¶ 2). Plaintiff used the account, agreeing to pay for amounts charged on the account and interest and finance charges. (Id. at ¶ 3). Defendant alleges that Eaton breached the card agreement by not paying the account pursuant to the card agreement's terms. (Id. at ¶ 4). Defendant contends that plaintiff owed $6,842.53 on the account as of September 30, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 6). Defendant's counterclaim seeks payment of this allegedly delinquent amount, plus costs, interest and attorney's fees. (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff admits that the Sears MasterCard is the subject of this dispute. (Plaintiff's Answer to Counterclaim (Doc. 24) at ¶ 2). She contends, however, that defendant breached the credit-card contract by charging fees and raising interest rates in a manner not specified by the agreement. (Id. at ¶ 3-4). She thus denies the amount defendant claims she owes on the card. (Id. at ¶ 5).

Defendant filed the instant motion for judgment on the pleadings on November 6, 2009. (See Doc. 26). Defendant seeks an order dismissing plaintiff's case against it, as well as judgment on Citibank's counterclaim and attorney's fees and costs. The parties then briefed the motion, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Plaintiff brings her claims pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681. As such, the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). The court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("In any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article II of the United States Constitution.").

Legal Standard

Defendant has filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). That rule provides that "[a]fter the pleadings are closed--but early enough not to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(c). "Under Rule 12(c), like Rule 12(b)(6) (dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted), judgment will not be granted: unless the movant clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court is required to view the facts presented in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most ...


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