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Havassy v. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 6, 2020

JAMES HAVASSY, Plaintiff,
v.
MERCEDES-BENZ FINANCIAL SERVICES USA, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS, ECF NO. 25 - GRANTED (AS TO COUNT TWO, ONLY)

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         James Havassy had his identity stolen by an individual. That individual utilized Havassy's identity to purchase a Mercedes-Benz in Colorado. Havassy then initiated the above-captioned action and filed a two-count amended complaint against Mercedes with Count One being a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claim and Count Two being a common law negligence claim. Mercedes brings this motion for judgment on the pleadings for Count Two only. For the following reasons, Mercedes' motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges the following facts:

         On or around June 20, 2017, an individual, without Havassy's knowledge or consent, opened an auto loan account with Mercedes. Pl. Am. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 7. The individual then used the account to purchase a Mercedes at a dealership in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Id. at ¶ 8. The individual purchased the vehicle for $73, 078, with no money down, and no trade-in. Id. at ¶ 10. Mercedes funded the account the individual opened. Id. Havassy asserts the opening of the account by the individual should have immediately alerted Mercedes the account was fraudulent. Id. at ¶ 9. He further asserts he did not benefit from the opening of the account. Id. at ¶ 11.

         After the car purchase in June of 2017, Mercedes reported the account on Havassy's credit reports with an outstanding balance of $73, 078. Id. at ¶ 12. After approximately three months, on or about September 29, 2017, Todd Wolfe, a representative from the Mercedes fraud department, contacted Havassy to inform him Mercedes believed he was a victim of identity theft. Id. at ¶ 13. After notifying Havassy of the suspected identity theft, Mercedes continued to report the account on Havassy's credit reports and additionally began to report the account as a negative payment history. Id. at ¶ 14. This reporting continued from September 2017 to November 2017, then Mercedes began to report the account as a charge-off. Id. at ¶ 15.

         In an attempt to remedy the identity theft, Havassy disputed the debt with all three consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), and also with Mercedes. Id. at ¶ 16. From June 2017 to November 2017, Plaintiff submitted disputes to all three CRAs detailing he was a victim of identity theft. Id. at ¶ 17. In total, there were nine disputes, all of which were forwarded to Mercedes. Id. at ¶ 18.

         Mercedes responded to Havassy in December of 2017, acknowledging the fraudulent account and informing Havassy it would delete the account from his credit reports. Id. at ¶ 22. However, Mercedes continued to report the account to Havassy as a charge-off with a negative payment history through July of 2018. Id. at ¶ 23, 24. Resultantly, Havassy suffered damages in lost credit opportunities, a negative credit report, and distress. Id. at ¶ 25, 26.

         Havassy filed a two-count complaint on April 15, 2019, and then amended his complaint on May 17, 2019. After the conclusion of discovery, Mercedes filed this motion for judgment on the pleadings.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when “the movant clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains . . . and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Rosenau v. Unifund Corp., 539 F.3d 218, 221 (3d Cir. 2008).

         When deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court considers the pleadings and exhibits attached thereto, matters of public record and “undisputedly authentic documents attached to the motion for judgment on the pleadings if plaintiffs' claims are based on the documents.” Atiyeh v. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co. of Hartford, 742 F.Supp.2d 591, 595 (E.D. Pa. 2010). A motion for judgment on the pleadings is analyzed under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Zimmerman v. Corbett, 873 F.3d 414, 417 (3d Cir. 2017). Accordingly, the Court “accept[s] as true all allegations in plaintiff's complaint as well as all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, and [the court] construes them in a light most favorable to the non-movant.” Tatis v. Allied Interstate, LLC, 882 F.3d 422, 426 (3d Cir. 2018) (quoting Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239, 262 n.27 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         The motion will be granted if the plaintiff has not articulated enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The plaintiff must plead “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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). 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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). It is not enough for a plaintiff to allege mere “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “The plausibility ...


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