Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bower v. NRA Group, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 22, 2019

ELEN BOWER, Plaintiff,
v.
NRA GROUP, LLC, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Susan Paradise Baxter United States District Judge

         This civil action was filed on December 17, 2018 by Plaintiff Elen Bower (“Plaintiff”) against Defendants NRA GROUP, LLC (“NRA Group”) and five “John Doe” Defendants. Plaintiff claims that the Defendants violated her rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§1692 et seq., in connection with their attempts to communicate with her about an alleged debt. Plaintiff filed a proof of service indicating that the complaint was served upon Defendant NRA Group on December 19, 2018, ECF No. 5; however, NRA Group has not answered the complaint. The Clerk subsequently entered default against NRA Group, pursuant to Plaintiff's request, on January 14, 2019. ECF No. 8.

         Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for default judgment against NRA Group. ECF No. 9.[1] Appended to Plaintiff's motion is a memorandum as well as the following exhibits: a proof of service of the complaint (Exhibit A, ECF No. 9-1); a certificate of service for Plaintiff's Request for Entry of Default (Exhibit B, ECF No. 9-2); a “United States Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report” for 2015-2016 (Exhibit C, ECF No. 9-3); the “Declaration of Robert Amador [Plaintiff's attorney] in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment and Attorney's Fees” (Exhibit D, ECF No. 9-4); an itemized bill showing counsel's billing rate and time expended in the prosecution of this matter (Exhibit E, ECF No. 9-5); and a proposed order that would award Plaintiff $1, 000.00 in statutory damages, $465.00 in costs, and $2, 976.50 in attorney's fees.

         This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion will be granted to the extent that Plaintiff will be awarded $750.00 in statutory damages, $465.00 in costs, and $2, 971.50 in attorney's fees. Accordingly, judgment will be entered in Plaintiff's favor in the amount of $4, 186.50.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the complaint, Plaintiff is a resident of Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, and NRA Group is a limited liability company with its primary place of business in Harrisburg. Compl. ¶3, ECF No. 1. During times relevant to this litigation, Defendants regularly operate as third-party debt collectors. Id. ¶6.

         On or about August 13, 2018, Defendants began calling Plaintiff in an attempt to collect a consumer debt that Plaintiff allegedly owed. Compl. ¶7. On that date, a collector from NRA Group called Plaintiff's number and asked if she was speaking with Elen Bower. Id. ¶8. After Plaintiff responded in the affirmative, the caller asked Plaintiff to “verify” her address. Id. Plaintiff refused, telling the caller, “I don't know who you are.” Id. The caller then identified herself as being with the “NRA Group.” Id. Plaintiff indicated that the name did “not mean anything” and inquired what “NRA Group” is, to which the caller replied, “We handle personal matters.” Id. Plaintiff refused to provide any personal information because she had no idea what NRA Group was or what the call was about. Id. When the caller asked Plaintiff to verify her birthday rather than her address, Plaintiff refused, stating, “No, I'm not telling you my birthday. I don't know who you are.” Id. The caller then replied, “Well, we only have to tell you who we are.” Id. Not knowing what the call was about and perceiving that the collector was becoming argumentative, Plaintiff ended the call. Id. Thereafter, Defendants continued to call Plaintiff, but Plaintiff did not engage in any further communications. Id. ¶9.

         Plaintiff eventually contacted an attorney, who confirmed that NRA Group was attempting to collect a $57.80 balance allegedly owed to a medical services provider. Compl. ¶¶10-11. Plaintiff avers that she had been working with her insurance company to identify any bills or co-payments for which she may be responsible. Id. ¶11.

         Based upon the foregoing events, Plaintiff contends that the Defendants violated three separate provisions of the FDCPA. First, she claims that Defendants violated 15 U.S.C. §1692d(6) by failing to provide meaningful disclosure of their identity - specifically, that the August 13, 2018 communication was from a debt collector and that such communication was being made in an attempt to collect a debt. See Compl. ¶12 (Count I). Second, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated 15 U.S.C. §1692e(11) by failing to disclose not only that the communication was from a debt collector in an attempt to collect a debt, but also that any information obtained could be used for that purpose. Id. ¶13 (Count II). Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated 15 U.S.C. §1692e(10) by making the misleading statement, “[W]e only have to tell you who we are.” Id. ¶14 (Count III).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “[T]he entry of a default judgment is left primarily to the discretion of the district court.” Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180 (3d Cir. 1984). Upon the Clerk's entry of default, “the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.” Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990) (quoting 10 C. Wright, A. Miller & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2688 at 444 (2d ed.1983)). However, “the Court need not accept the moving party's legal conclusions[.]” Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558 F.Supp.2d 532, 535 (D.N.J. 2008) (citations omitted). Thus, “before entering a default judgment the Court must decide whether ‘the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law.'” Ford v. Consigned Debts & Collections, Inc., No. 09-3102, 2010 WL 5392643, at *2 (D.N.J. Dec. 21, 2010) (quoting Chanel, 558 F.Supp.2d at 535). Once a valid claim has been asserted, “[t]hree factors control whether a default judgment should be granted: (1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default is denied, (2) whether the defendant appears to have a litigable defense, and (3) whether defendant's delay is due to culpable conduct.” Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing United States v. $55, 518.85 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 195 (3d Cir. 1984)).

         III.ANALYSIS

         A. NRA Group's Potential Liability

         The FDCPA “prohibits ‘debt collector[s]' from making false or misleading representations and from engaging in various abusive and unfair practices.” Heintz v. Jenkins, 514 U.S. 291, 292 (1995) (alteration in the original). Because the statute is remedial in nature, courts construe its language broadly, so as to effectuate its purpose. Levins v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Grp. LLC, 902 F.3d 274, 280 (3d Cir. 2018).

         In order to establish an FDCPA claim, a plaintiff must show that (1) she is a “consumer, ”[2] (2) the defendant is a “debt collector, ”[3] (3) the defendant's challenged practice involves an attempt to collect a “debt” as defined by the Act, [4] and (4) the defendant has violated a provision of the FDCPA in attempting to collect the debt. Jensen v. Pressler & Pressler, 791 F.3d 413, 417 (3d Cir. 2015). In evaluating whether a particular debt-collection practice violates the Act, courts employ a “least sophisticated debtor” standard. Fleming v. Associated Credit Servs., Inc., 342 F.Supp.3d 563, 579 (D.N.J. 2018). “The standard is objective, meaning that the specific plaintiff ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.