United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
STEVEN ARCHAVAGE, on his own behalf and on behalf of all other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNT SERVICES, INC., Defendant.
F. SAPORITO, JR. U.S. Magistrate Judge
January 25, 2016, this civil action was initiated by Steven
Archavage on his own behalf and on behalf of all others
similarly situated in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne
County filed to Docket No. 2016-566. Archavage named
Professional Account Services, Inc. (“PAS”) as
the defendant. PAS is a debt collector in the business of
collecting debts. (Doc. 2 ¶ 17). In his complaint,
Archavage asserted several Pennsylvania claims for unfair and
deceptive debt collection activities on behalf of himself and
other persons similarly situated under (1) the Fair Credit
Extension Uniformity Act, 73 P.S. § 2270.1 et
seq.; (2) common law fraud; (3) the Unfair Trade
Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-3;
(4) the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act,
18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5703; and (5) for unjust
February 22, 2016, PAS filed a notice of removal (Doc. 1) to
this court alleging subject matter jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2) (diversity of citizenship and amount
in controversy greater than $5, 000, 000) and 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 (federal question). Before the court is
Archavage's motion to remand (Doc. 5) the case to the
Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County. The parties have
fully briefed the issues and for the reasons set forth herein
we will grant the motion.
has alleged that on various occasions in 2012, he received
medical treatment at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital (the
“hospital”) for which the hospital sought
payment. (Doc. 2 ¶ 18). Most of the medical bills were
processed and paid by applicable insurance and when some of
the bills went unpaid, the hospital sent the unpaid bills to
PAS for collection. (Id. ¶ 19). Archavage
alleges that PAS conducted its collection activity under the
guise of being the original creditor, wrongfully cloaking
itself with the identity of the creditor and referring to
itself as the original creditor. (Id. ¶10).
further alleged that PAS learned that Archavage's unpaid
medical bills of the hospital should have been paid by his
workers compensation insurance carrier. (Id. ¶
22). Thereafter, Archavage alleged that in an attempt to
ascertain information about the outstanding hospital bills, a
representative of PAS made a telephone call to the workers
compensation carrier's third party administrator.
(Id. ¶ 23). During the call, the PAS
representative unlawfully recorded the telephone call, failed
to identify herself as a debt collector, falsely claimed that
she was calling from the hospital, requested and received the
name and contact information of the workers compensation
claims adjuster, and failed to secure the appropriate consent
from Archavage. (Id. ¶¶ 23-28). Archavage
asserts that at least three of PAS's female
representatives telephoned the adjuster for his workers
compensation carrier as well as his counsel and represented
themselves as being from the hospital or “the business
office, ” or the “corporate office from the
hospital.” (Id. ¶¶ 29-37). During
all of those calls to counsel, (1) the representatives
concealed that they were debt collectors, (2) failed to state
they were attempting to collect a debt, (3) created phony
letterhead of the hospital and sending it by facsimile to
counsel, and (4) unlawfully tape recorded the telephone
conversations. (Id. ¶¶ 38-45).
of history, on February 14, 2013, Archavage had filed a
different, prior suit against PAS in the Court of Common
Pleas of Luzerne County (“Archavage I”).
(Doc. 6-2, at 2). This action is active and still pending in
the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. (Id.). In
that lawsuit, Archavage has alleged that his claims are based
on PAS's collection activities relative to his unpaid
medical bills, and PAS is liable for damages based on the
1. Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Act - 15 U.S.C.A.
3. Violation of the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension
Uniformity Act - 73 P.S. § 2270.4;
4. Violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer
Protection Law - 73 P.S. § 201-3.
(Id.). Furthermore, Archavage claimed that PAS used
the telephone and other instrumentalities of interstate
commerce in its attempts to collect debts, and specifically a
debt allegedly owed by Archavage. (Id.).
December 8, 2015, Archavage had also filed a separate prior
class action complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of
Luzerne County (“Archavage II”).
(Id. at 58). There, Archavage alleged those same
violations of state and federal law as in Archavage
I. (Id.). The complaint in Archavage II
alleged the total amount in controversy for each member as
less than $75, 000, and it also alleged that members of the
class in Pennsylvania exceed one-thousand persons.
(Id. at 62, 71). PAS then filed a notice of removal
on January 12, 2016, and Archavage II was removed to
this Court. (Id. at 87). After a scheduling order
was signed by the Honorable Richard P. Conaboy (Id.
at 125), Archavage filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of
that action, without prejudice. (Id. at 127).
January 25, 2016, Archavage filed the instant action against
PAS (“Archavage III”) in the Court of
Common Pleas of Luzerne County Pennsylvania. (Doc. 2). This
complaint contains the same factual basis as those previously
filed; however, Archavage removed all explicit claims based
on federal statutes. (Id.). Nevertheless, in his
complaint, Archavage refers to the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692
and references the FDCPA's purpose to eliminate abusive
debt collection practices by debt collectors. (Id.
¶ 2). However, he claims that the Pennsylvania law
counterpart, the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension
Uniformity Act (“FCEUA”), also provides that if a
debt collector violates any of the provisions ...