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Torres v. Asset Acceptance, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 7, 2015

MARGARET TORRES, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ASSET ACCEPTANCE, LLC, Defendant

For MARGARET TORRES, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiff: DAVID A. SEARLES, JAMES A. FRANCIS, FRANCIS & MAILMAN, PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For ASSET ACCEPTANCE, LLC, Defendant: ANDREW M. SCHWARTZ, LEAD ATTORNEY, MARSHALL DENNEHEY WARNER COLEMAN & GOGGIN, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 542

MEMORANDUM

EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, Judge.

Plaintiff Margaret Torres (" Plaintiff" ), on behalf of herself and a putative class, brings this action against Asset Acceptance, LLC (" Defendant" ) alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA" ), 15 U.S.C. § 1692. Defendant has moved to dismiss. This case requires the Court to confront, in the context of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the interaction and apparent conflict between two Congressionally created statutory schemes: the FDCPA and the Bankruptcy Code. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss.[1]

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. On or about November 22, 2013, Defendant filed a proof of claim for an alleged debt of $1,296.86, related to " money loaned" by Household/Orchard Bank. Id. ¶ 7. Per the proof of claim itself, the last transaction and payment date was June 10, 2002, which placed the claim well outside Pennsylvania's four-year state of limitations period for breach of contract claims. Id. ¶ ¶ 10-11. Plaintiff now alleges that Defendant's filing of the proof of claim on time-barred debt violates the FDCPA.

On February 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in this action, bringing one count, for violation of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § § 1692e, 1692e(2), (10), and 1692f, and requesting actual damages, statutory damages, and costs and attorney's fees under § 1692k(a). ECF No. 15. On February 23, 2015, Defendant renewed its motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 20. Plaintiff has submitted her response (ECF

Page 543

No. 21) and Defendant its reply (ECF No. 22). The motion is now ripe for disposition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A party may move to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When considering such a motion, 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).

III. DISCUSSION

A. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

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. § 1692. Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated § § 1692f and 1692f.

The relevant sections of § 1692e read as follows:

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:
. . . .
(2) The false representation of--
(A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; . . . .
. . . .
(10) The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain ...

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