The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Chief Judge Kane)
Plaintiff Bruce Fetters has asserted claims against Defendants pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §1692 et seq. ("FDCPA"); the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, 73 P.S. § 2270.4; and the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-1 et seq. Pending before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. Nos. 10, 16.) For the following reasons, the motions will be denied.
Defendants Paragon Way, Inc. ("Paragon") and Collins Financial Services, Inc. n/k/a
Precision Recovery Analytics, Inc. ("Collins") are engaged in the collection of consumer debts through use of the mail and telephone. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 7.) Both Paragon and Collins have their principal places of business in Texas. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 6.)
Plaintiff was indebted to Collins by way of an assignment of a consumer debt from the original creditor, World's Foremost Bank. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 8-9.) On September 24, 2009, Plaintiff received a letter from the firm of Gordon and Weinberg, PC, a law firm representing Collins. (Id.) In the letter, Collins offered to settle the debt owed by Plaintiff for $2,200. (Id.) Plaintiff agreed to the settlement and forwarded a check to Collins for the full settlement amount. (Id. ¶ 11.) On October 21, 2009, Plaintiff received a letter from Gordon and Weinberg confirming receipt of the payment and stating that the debt would be settled and closed. (Id. ¶ 12.) However, the account was not listed as closed until after the complaint was filed in the current action. (Doc. No. 17 ¶ 10; Doc. No. 6-2 at 5.) To the contrary, Plaintiff's account was being reported to the credit bureaus as an open collection account. (Doc. No. 10 ¶ 11.)
Paragon appears to have acquired the debt from Collins in March 2010 after Collins failed to update its records to indicate that Plaintiff's debt had been satisfied. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 15, 17.) That same month, Plaintiff sought and was turned down for a mortgage loan because the debt was listed as open for collection by Paragon. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14.) At that time, Plaintiff contacted Paragon to explain that the debt had been paid in full. (Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff alleges that, in response, Paragon insisted that the account was unpaid and continued to try to collect. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff avers that "Defendants' [sic] acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by threatening to take action that it [sic] could not legally take or did not intend to take for the purpose of coercing Plaintiff to pay the debt." (Id. ¶ 24.)
On April 28, 2010, Plaintiff filed the complaint initiating the present action. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and supporting brief on August 10, 2010. (Doc. No. 10.) On August 24, 2010, Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion and also a cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. No. 16.)
Pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a motion for judgment on the pleadings may only be granted by a district court if the movant clearly establishes that no material issues of fact remain and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Core States Bank v. Huls Am., Inc., 176 F.3d 187, 193 (3d Cir. 1999). In this way, the standard of review for a Rule 12(c) motion on the pleadings is the same as the one employed in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Turbe v. Gov't of Virgin Islands, 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991).
Defendants and Plaintiff have each moved for judgment on the pleadings. The Court will address each motion in turn.
A. Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
In their motion, Defendants argue that the FDCPA cannot apply where a debt has already been settled and closed. Additionally, Defendants challenge Plaintiff's state law claim under the Pennsylvania Fair ...