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Jonathan Stewart v. Xrimz

March 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (Doc. 10.) For the reasons stated below, the Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.


Plaintiff's Complaint alleges as follows.

Plaintiff Stewart is a citizen of Pennsylvania currently residing at 131 North Meade Street, Wilkes Barre, PA. Defendant XRimz, LLC, is a Limited Liability Corporation who has as its sole member Burton L. Albert, who is a citizen of Virginia. XRimz's business is the selling of automobile parts and accessories, particularly custom automobile wheels and related parts. Defendant First Choice Financial, Inc., a/k/a 1st Choice Financial, Inc. is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia. Defendant First Choice Financial is engaged in the business of collecting consumer debts via the telephone and mail.

On or around August 4, 2010, Plaintiff purchased a set of automobile wheels from Defendant XRimz for the amount of two-thousand five-hundred and fifty-six dollars ($2,556.00). Plaintiff financed the purchase through Defendant First Choice Financial. After receiving the wheels, Plaintiffs contacted Defendant XRimz and told them that his financial situation had changed and that he no longer wanted the wheels. Defendant XRimz told Plaintiff he could not return them and that if they were not paid for in full, XRimz would file suit. Plaintiff made one payment by money order. "Defendants" then began harassing the Plaintiff the day after Plaintiff missed his next payment. Defendant XRimz contacted Plaintiff by phone pretending to be police officers and told Plaintiff he would be arrested if he did not pay what was owed on the wheels. Defendant XRimz then began "relentlessly" contacting Plaintiff through a series of harassing phone calls. Defendant XRimz's employees, "Talieitha Shareef," "Ken Dudley," "Terry Hale," "Robert Cunningham," and "Vanessa" all contacted Plaintiff and left text messages. On or around October 6, 2010, Defendant XRimz called Plaintiff eight times pretending to be Virginia police investigating the Plaintiff. During one of the phone calls on that date, "Robert Cunningham" told Plaintiff he was a "worthless scumbag" and "should die." Defendants also sent Plaintiff a number of text messages accusing the Plaintiff of "mail order fraud." Also on October 6, 2010, at 4:59 P.M., an XRimz employee texted Plaintiff and told him: "you are nothing more than a common thief you are a disgrace to society you should go hang yourself." Plaintiff received another text message at 5:00 P.M. from an XRimz employee telling him to "go to the nearest bridge and jump off." At 5:35, Plaintiff received a text message from Defendants stating that XRimz and First Choice Financial had begun legal proceedings to retrieve the wheels, that Plaintiff was under investigation for fraud, and that the wheels would be repossessed and Plaintiff's wages garnished until the balance on the wheels had been paid. Plaintiff also received "earlier" texts in which Defendants called him a "scumbag" and threatened to "whoop that ass whiteboy."

Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on October 18, 2010. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff did not plead subject-matter jurisdiction properly, and was directed by the Court to re-file a properly amended complaint. Plaintiff then filed his Amended Complaint on October 28, 2010. (Doc. 3.) In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brings claims against Defendants for: violation of the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act ("FCEUA") (Count I); violation of the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Practices & Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL") (Count II); Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count III); and Invasion of Privacy\False Light (Count IV). Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1) on December 30, 2010. (Doc. 10.) The Motion has been briefed by both sides and is ripe for review.


I. Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp.v.Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997)). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

II. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint for "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b) (1) therefore challenges the power of a federal court to hear a claim or case. See Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294, 302 (3d Cir.2006). In the face of a 12(b)(1) motion, the plaintiff has the burden to "convince the court it has jurisdiction." Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir.2000); see also Kehr Packages v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir.1991) ("When subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff must bear the burden of persuasion.").

Motions under Rule 12(b)(1) may take one of two forms. A "facial" attack "contests the sufficiency of the pleadings." Common Cause of Pa. v. Pennsylvania, 558 F.3d 249, 257 (3d Cir.2009) (quoting Taliaferro v. Darby Twp. Zoning Bd., 458 F.3d 181, 187-88 (3d Cir.2006)). The court assumes the veracity of the allegations in the complaint but must examine the pleadings to ascertain whether they present an action within the court's jurisdiction. United States ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir.2007). The court should grant such a motion only if it appears with certainty that assertion of jurisdiction would be improper. Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Health & Welfare Fund of Ne. Pa., 285 ...

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