United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
October 24, 2014
For BRADLEY GOOD, EDWARD K. SOUCEK, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiffs: CARY L. FLITTER, LEAD ATTORNEY, ANDREW M. MILZ, FLITTER LORENZ, P.C., NARBERTH, PA; CARLO SABATINI, SABATINI LAW FIRM LLC, DUNMORE, PA.
For NATIONWIDE CREDIT, INC., Defendant: ALFRED W. PUTNAM, JR., LEAD ATTORNEY, ANDREW P. REEVE, DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP ONE LOGAN SQ, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.
Plaintiffs Bradley Good and Edward Soucek bring this suit against Defendant Nationwide Credit, Inc., alleging that it sent them collection notices including language that is false, deceptive, or misleading under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA" ), 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint and, for the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the motion.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On September 9, 2013, Defendant sent Plaintiff Soucek a dunning letter on behalf of GE Capital Retail Bank offering Soucek the opportunity to settle his account of $613.03 for $183.90, representing a savings of $429.13. Compl. Ex. A. The letter also included the following language: " GE CAPITAL RETAIL BANK is required to file a form 1099C with the Internal Revenue Service for any cancelled debt of $600 or more. Please consult your tax advisor concerning any tax questions." Id. On December 10, 2013, Defendant sent Plaintiff Good a letter on behalf of American Express inviting him to pay off his account balance of $10,094.47. Id. Ex. B. The letter included the following language: " American Express is required to file a form 1099C with the Internal Revenue Service for any cancelled debt of $600 or more. Please consult your tax advisor concerning any tax questions." Id. Plaintiffs claim that this language is false, deceptive, and misleading,id.¶ ¶ 24, 26, and that it constitutes a " collection ploy,"
id.¶ 26, all in violation of the FDCPA, id. ¶ 36.
On July 14, 2014, Plaintiffs commenced this action by filing a complaint in federal court. The complaint alleges one count, that the collection letter violates the FDCPA, and requests statutory damages as provided for under 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a). Compl. at 7.
On September 5, 2014, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to which Plaintiffs responded on September 22, 2014. The motion is ripe for disposition.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
When considering a party's motion to dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must " accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." DeBenedictis v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 492 F.3d 209, 215 (3d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks removed). To withstand a motion to dismiss, the complaint's " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).
This " requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. Although a plaintiff is entitled to all reasonable inferences from the facts alleged, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not entitled to deference and the Court is " not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986).
The pleadings must contain sufficient factual allegations so as to state a facially plausible claim for relief. See, e.g., Gelman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,
583 F.3d 187, 190 (3d Cir. 2009). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)) (internal quotation marks omitted). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court limits its inquiry to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents. See Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994); Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).
A. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Requirement to Report a Discharge of Indebtedness
Congress's purposes in enacting the FDCPA were " to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses." 15 U.S.C. ...