United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
SETH A. REICHENBACH AND BRYAN C. REICHENBACH, Plaintiffs,
HAYES, JOHNSON & CONLEY, PLLC AND JOEL D. JOHNSON, Defendants.
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before me is the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss
(See Doc. 7) filed by the Defendants, Hayes, Johnson
& Conley, PLLC and Joel D. Johnson (collectively,
“the Defendants”). The Plaintiffs, Seth A.
Reichenbach and Bryan C. Reichenbach (collectively,
“the Plaintiffs”) allege that the Defendants
filed an action against them in violation of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692 et seq. (See Doc. 1). Because the
Plaintiffs state a claim for relief that the Defendants have
violated §§ 1692f(1), 1692e(2)(A), & 1692e(10)
by demanding unincurred attorneys’ fees and
unauthorized late fees in their debt collection action, but
have not sufficiently alleged a claim under §
1692i(a)(2) for improper venue, the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.
facts from the Plaintiffs’ Complaint (Doc. 1), taken as
true and viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs
are as follows:
Plaintiffs are brothers who reside in Florida. (Id.
at 1). They own a time-share interval, specifically Interval
No. 30 of Unit RV46 of Phase IIIB, Area I, River Village,
Stage I of the Shawnee Village Planned Residential
Development (“Development”) in Monroe County,
Pennsylvania. (Id. at 12). The Defendants consist of
a law firm, Hayes, Johnson & Conley and an attorney for
the firm, Joel D. Johnson that represent the River Village
Phase IIIB Owners Association (“Timeshare
Association”). (See Id. at 3).
October 9, 2018, the Defendants brought a debt collection
action against the Plaintiffs in Monroe County to recover
$2,764.97 in connection with a consumer debt owed to the
Timeshare Association (“the Underlying
Complaint”). (See Id. at 7-10). In the
Underlying Action, the Defendants requested $1,764.97 in
unpaid association fees and late fees, and $1,000.00 in
reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. (Id. at
10). Pursuant to the Declaration of Protective Covenants,
Mutual Ownership and Easements, dated March 6, 1980
(“Declaration of Protective Covenants”), each
owner of a time-share interval in the Development owes the
Timeshare Association fees for his proportionate share of the
common expenses estimated for the following fiscal year.
(Doc. 7-5 at 27).
30, 2019, the Plaintiffs commenced this action. (See
Doc. 1). The Plaintiffs contend that the Defendants violated
several provisions of the FDCPA by filing the Underlying
Complaint in Monroe County and demanding payment of
unincurred attorneys’ fees and unauthorized late fees.
(Id. at 1-5) The Plaintiffs are seeking damages,
attorney’s fees and costs, and “[s]uch other and
further relief as the Court shall deem just and
proper.” (Id. at 5). On August 5, 2019, the
Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss (See Doc.
7), arguing that the Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted under the FDCPA.
(Id. at 1).
Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.
Rule of Civil Procedure 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. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2)
must give the defendant fair notice of the grounds for the
claim. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(per curiam). While detailed factual allegations are
not required, conclusory statements that allege the
complainant is entitled to relief are inadequate. Fowler
v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009).
Legal conclusions that provide the framework for a complaint
must be supported by factual allegations. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court is limited to
determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in
support of his or her claims. See Semerenko v. Cendant
Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). A court does
not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail.
Id. The inquiry at the motion to dismiss stage is
“normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the
elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike
conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the
well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating
whether all of the elements identified in part one of the
inquiry are sufficiently alleged.” Malleus v.
George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011). If there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, then a court must assume
their truthfulness in deciding whether they raise an
entitlement to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 679 (2007). Dismissal is only appropriate when,
accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint,
Plaintiff has not plead enough factual allegations to provide
a reasonable expectation that discovery will lead to evidence
of each necessary element. Phillips v. County of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008).
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court considers the
allegations in the complaint and exhibits attached to the
complaint. Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d
Cir. 2010). In addition to the complaint and any exhibits
attached, a court may examine “legal arguments
presented in memorandums or briefs and arguments of
counsel.” Pryor v. NCAA, 288 F.3d 548, 560 (3d
Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). A court may also consider a
“document integral or explicitly relied upon in the
complaint.” In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997). At bottom,
documents may be examined by a court when ruling on a motion
to dismiss when the plaintiff had proper notice of the
existence of the documents. Id. A court need not
assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in
the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power
Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or
credit a complaint's “‘bald
assertions’” or “‘legal
conclusions.’” Morse v. Lower Merion Sch.
Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In
re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410,
1429–30 (3d Cir. 1997)).
with their briefs, the Plaintiffs have attached to their
Complaint, the Underlying Complaint and their Deed to their
time-share interval. (See Doc. 1). The Defendants
also attached these documents to their Motion to Dismiss, in
addition to the Declaration of Protective Covenants.
(See Doc. 7-5). As a court deciding a motion to
dismiss may consider undisputably authentic documents the
parties submit, the aforementioned documents will form part
of the record for resolution of the motion to dismiss. The
Plaintiffs allege the Defendants breached the FDCPA by (1)
filing a lawsuit in a district where the Plaintiffs do not
reside in violation of § 1692i(a)(2), (2)
misrepresenting the amount of debt owed to the Timeshare
Association by including $1,000.00 of unincurred
attorney’s fees in violation of §§
1692e(2)(A) & 1692e(10), (3) demanding $1,000.00 in
unincurred attorney’s fees, not authorized by law or
the Declaration of Protective Covenants, in violation of
§ 1692f(1), and (4) demanding a judgment amount that
included unauthorized late fees in violation of §§
1692f(1), 1692e(2)(A), & 1692e(10). (Doc. 1 at 4-5). The
Defendants move to dismiss ...