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Sasscer v. Donnelly

May 27, 2010

CATHY SASSCER, PLAINTIFF
v.
JAMES D. DONNELLY, AND DOES 1-10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS



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

(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Defendant James D. Donnelly's motion to dismiss. Having been fully briefed, the matter is ripe for disposition.

Background

This case arises out of a dealings over a debt owed by plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated her rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, and related state laws. According to plaintiff's complaint, she is an adult who resides in Hawley, Pennsylvania. (Complaint (Doc. 1) (hereinafter "Complt.") at ¶ 4). Defendant James D. Donnelly, a New Jersey lawyer, operates a collection agency and serves as a debt collector under federal law. (Id. at ¶ 6).

Plaintiff avers that she incurred a financial obligation of approximately $12,000 to Skylands Community Bank. (Id. at ¶ 8). The debt arose from services provided to plaintiff for family, personal or household purposes. (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff secured this debt with a motor vehicle. (Id. at ¶ 12). Eventually, the bank either sold, assigned, or transferred the debt to Defendant Donnelly for collection. (Id. at ¶ 10). Donnelly communicated with plaintiff in an attempt to collect this debt. (Id. at ¶ 11).

Defendants allegedly engaged in behavior that the plaintiff found abusive or harassing. The automobile plaintiff used to secure the loan was eventually repossessed, either by the bank or the defendants in the case. (Id. at ¶ 13). Defendants refused plaintiff's request that they provide a receipt showing the amount obtained from the sale of the vehicle. (Id. at ¶ 14). Defendants told plaintiff she would have to pay the legal fees defendants incurred in attempting to collect the debt. (Id. at ¶ 15). They threatened to repossess plaintiff's property, place liens on her home, ruin her credit rating and "drag [plaintiff] into court and embarrass [her]." (Id. at ¶¶ 16-19). Defendants also telephoned plaintiff twice a day. (Id. at ¶ 20).

Defendants allegedly also caused plaintiff actual damages. (Id. at ¶ 21). Plaintiff claims she suffered humiliation, anger, anxiety, emotional distress, fear, frustration and embarrassment from defendants' conduct. (Id. at ¶ 22). This conduct, plaintiff contends, was so extreme and outrageous as to be atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. (Id. at ¶ 23).

Plaintiff's complaint, filed March 2, 2010, raises four causes of action. Count I alleges violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C.§ 1692. Count II alleges violations of the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, 73 P.S. § 2270, through the defendants' violations of the federal statute. Count III raises a state-law claim for invasion of privacy by intrusion upon seclusion. Count IV claims violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-1.

Plaintiff then served the complaint on Defendant Donnelly. Donnelly responded by filing the instant motion to dismiss. (Doc. 3). The parties then briefed the issues, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Plaintiff brings this claim pursuant to the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. This court therefore 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 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 seeks dismissal of the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). When a defendant files a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Colburn v. Upper Darby Township, 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (citing Estate of Bailey by Oare v. County of York, 768 F.3d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985), (quoting Helstoski v. Goldstein, 552 F.2d 564, 565 (3d Cir. 1977) (per curium)). The court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The court does not have to ...


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