United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard P. Conaboy United States District Judge.
consider here Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. 8). The motion
has been fully briefed by the parties (Docs. 9, 11, and 12)
and is now ripe for disposition.
Operative Legal Standard.
McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir.
2009), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals set out the
standard applicable to a motion to dismiss in light of the
United States Supreme Court's decisions in Bell
Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 (2007), and
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).
“[T]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true to
‘state a claim that relief is plausible on its
face.'” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). The Court emphasized that “only a
complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a
motion to dismiss.” Id. at 1950. Moreover, it
continued, “[d]etermining whether a complaint states a
possible claim for relief will … be a context-specific
task that requires the reviewing Court to draw on its
traditional experience and common sense.” Id.
McTernan, 577 F.3d at 530. The Third Circuit discussed the
effect of Twombly and Iqbal in detail and provided a road map
for district courts presented with a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim in a case filed just a week before
McTernan, Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009).
[D]istrict Courts should conduct a two-part analysis. First,
the factual and legal elements of a claim should be
separated. The district court must accept all of the
complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard
any legal conclusions. [Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.] Second, a
district court must then determine whether the facts alleged
in the complaint are sufficient to show that the Plaintiff
has a “plausible claim for relief.” Id.
at 1950. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege
a Plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to
“show” such an entitlement with its facts.
See Philips v. Co. of Alleghany, 515 F.3d 224,
234-35 (3d Cir. 2008). As the Supreme Court instructed in
Iqbal, “[w]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit
the Court to infer more that the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged--but it has not
shown--that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal,
129 S.Ct. at 1949. This “plausibility”
determination will be a “context-specific task that
requires the reviewing Court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 1950.
Fowler, supra, at 210-11.
Circuit Court's guidance makes clear that legal
conclusions are not entitled to the same deference as
well-pleaded facts. In other words, “the court is
‘not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched
as a factual allegation.'” Guirguis v. Movers
Specialty Services, Inc., No. 09-1104, 2009 WL
3041992, at *2 (3d Cir. September 24. 2009) (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555) (not precedential).
Amended Complaint (Doc. 6) alleges that the Defendant
violated multiple sections of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq.
(“Act”). Plaintiff contends first that Defendant
violated the Act by structuring the debt collection letter it
transmitted to Plaintiff in a manner that would confuse the
recipient regarding what steps needed to be taken to insure
no calls concerning the debt would be made to her at her
place of employment. Specifically, Plaintiff complains that a
notice that applied only to Massachusetts residents was
placed and formatted in such a manner that it would cause an
unsophisticated consumer to believe that the Massachusetts
notice applied to all consumers irrespective of their
residence. Plaintiff contends that the notice was misleading
and deceptive in violation of § 1692e (10) of the Act.
also contends that the first page of the letter contains a
disclosure that ambiguously informs the reader concerning
what steps would be necessary to prevent the Defendant from
assuming that the debt was valid. Specifically, Plaintiff
asserts that the disclosure could lull a consumer into
believing that the debt could be disputed telephonically
when, in fact, debts must be disputed in writing. Plaintiff
contends that the disclosure did not meet the criteria
required in 15 U.S.C. § 1692g.
Plaintiff in a case brought under the Act must prove four
things: (1) that she is a consumer; (2) that the Defendant is
a debt collector; (3) that the Defendant's action
involves an “attempt to collect a debt” as
defined in the Act; and (4) that the defendant violated a
provision of the Act in attempting to collect the debt.
Douglass v. Convergent Outsourcing, 765 F.3d 299,
303 (3d Cir. 2014). Activity undertaken for the general
purpose of inducing payment constitutes debt collection.
Simon v. FIA Card Services, 732 F.3d 259, 265 (3d
Cir. 2013). The Act, specifically § 1692e, explicitly
prohibits debt collectors from using “any false,
deceptive or misleading representation or means in connection
with the collection of any debt.” In this case there is
no dispute that ...