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Guevara v. Constar Financial Services, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 14, 2018

LEONIDES GUEVARA, Plaintiff,
v.
CONSTAR FINANCIAL SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          RICHARD P. CONABOY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 12) is pending before the Court. In its supporting brief, Defendant contends it is entitled to judgment in its favor on Plaintiff's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) action because Plaintiff's theory of the case is not tenable. (Doc. 12-1 at 1.) Specifically, Defendant maintains that it correctly stated the amount due on the account as of the date of its letter to Plaintiff and Plaintiff's theory that the actual amount claimed on the debt should have been less because a partial refund would eventually be received by the creditor at a later date is without merit. (Id.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court concludes Defendant's motion is properly denied.

         I. Background [1]

         In January 2015, Plaintiff purchased a vehicle on credit and the purchase money loan (“the Account”) is a “debt” as the term is defined in the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1925a(5). (Doc. 1 ¶ 10.) The original lender sold the Account to Hyundai Motor Finance (“Hyundai”), and Hyundai identified the Account by a number ending in 4849. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         Eventually Plaintiff stopped making payments and Hyundai declared a default and repossessed the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 12.) The balance of the Account at the time was $22, 878.56. (Id. § 13.) After Hyundai sold the vehicle, the deficiency balance was $13, 377.23. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         On November 1, 2016, Hyundai referred the Account to Defendant Constar for collection. (Id. ¶ 15.) Eight days later, Hyundai reviewed the Account and determined that the balance reported to Defendant had been overstated by $1, 820.67 because the deficiency calculated did not address three refunds Hyndai was entitled to receive: $1, 123.50 for an extended warranty; $519.55 for gap insurance; and $177.62 for a product related to the vehicle's tires. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.)

         In a letter which was an attempt to collect a debt from Defendant Constar to Plaintiff dated December 11, 2016, the “Total Due” was stated to be $13, 377.23. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 23, 24; Doc. 1-2 at 2.)

         Hyundai received the credit by January 23, 2017. (Id. ¶ 26.) Defendant Constar held the Account for collection until March 17, 2017, and did not take action to change the information it had provided to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 27.)

         In the Complaint filed on December 11, 2017, Plaintiff avers that Defendant violated the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(2)(A) and (10), and § 1692g(a)(1). (Id. ¶ 28.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         “A motion for judgment on the pleadings based on a defense that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim is analyzed under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Allah v. Al-Hafeez, 226 F.3d 247, 249 (3d Cir. 2000). “A motion for judgment on the pleadings should be granted if the movant establishes that ‘there are no material issues of fact, and he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Zimmerman v. Corbett, 873 F.3d 414, 417 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Sikirica v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 214, 220 (3d Cir. 2005)). “In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a court must accept all of the allegations in the pleadings of the party against whom the motion is addressed as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.” Zimmerman, 873 F.3d at 417-18.

         B. Defendant's Motion

         Defendant contends it is entitled to judgment on the pleadings because it correctly stated the amount due ($13, 377.23) in the December 11, 2016, letter to Plaintiff. (Doc. 12-1 at 3.) Noting that each purported violation of the FDCPA is premised on the alleged false amount claimed (id.), Defendant elaborates that Plaintiff's own timeline shows that Defendant correctly stated the amount due on the Account at the time the letter was sent in that Hyundai did not receive a partial refund of the amount due on the Account until January 23, 2017. (Doc. 12-1 at 4.) Alternatively, Defendant argues that even if the amount stated on the letter was incorrect, it is entitled to ...


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