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Daniels v. Solomon and Solomon, PC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 25, 2017

LATASHA DANIELS, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated


          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 9.) For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This action arises from a debt collection letter that Plaintiff Latasha Daniels received from Defendant Solomon and Solomon, P.C. Plaintiff asserts one count against Defendant for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692e ("FDCPA"), on behalf of herself and the putative class. Plaintiff alleges that the letter falsely implies attorney involvement, and threatens an action that cannot legally be taken, in violation of the FDCPA.

A. Factual Background[1]

         On April 4, 2016, Plaintiff received a debt communication letter ("Letter") from Defendant. (Compl. ¶ 22, ECF No. 1.) At the time, Plaintiff owed Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation ("Niagara") money for utility services in the amount of $2, 850.65, and her obligation was in default. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 21.) Niagara retained Defendant, a law firm and debt collection agency, to collect Plaintiff s debt. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 19.)

         Defendant sent Plaintiff the Letter in order to collect Plaintiffs debt. (Id. ¶23.) The Letter is printed on a standard form that contains Defendant's trade name and address on the top right-hand corner of the page. (See Letter, Compl. Ex. A.) Plaintiff alleges that the Letter stated, in part: "Please be advised that your account with Solomon and Solomon P.C. still remains unpaid, and has been reported to the national credit bureaus. You should act now to resolve your problem!" (Id. ¶ 26.) The Letter provides payment directions, the standard FDCPA debt collection notice, and an invoice. (See Letter.) The Letter is not signed by a Solomon attorney or employee. (Compl. ¶ 27.)

         B. Procedural History

         On February 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court.[2] Plaintiffs Complaint asserts one count against Defendant for violations of the FDCPA (Count I). On April 20, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. (MTD, ECF No. 9.) On May 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (PL's Resp., ECF No. 12.) On May 25, 2017, Defendant filed a Reply to Plaintiffs Response. (ECF No. 13.)


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), "[a] pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Rule 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. A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         A claim is plausible "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. A complaint that merely alleges entitlement to relief, without alleging facts that show entitlement, must be dismissed. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Courts need not accept "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . ." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 679. This '"does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         In determining whether dismissal of the complaint is appropriate, courts use a two-part analysis. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. First, courts separate the factual and legal elements of the claim and accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true. Id. at 210-11. Next, courts determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a '"plausible claim for relief" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Given the nature of the two-part analysis, "'[determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will ... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         III. ...

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