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Webster v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

February 3, 2015

DELIA WEBSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

TANYA WALTON PRATT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) filed by Defendant Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC ("Bayview") (Filing No. 47). Plaintiff Delia Webster ("Ms. Webster") filed a complaint against Bayview, asserting claims for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, ("TCPA"), and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692-1692p ("FDCPA"). Bayview made an offer to tender the full amount of relief sought in Ms. Webster's Complaint, which Ms. Webster has rejected. For the following reasons, Bayview's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

When ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the district court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995) (internal citation omitted). Furthermore, "[t]he district court may properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists." Id. (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

Article III of the United States Constitution confers on the federal courts jurisdiction over cases and controversies. Both litigants must have a personal interest in the case at the beginning of the litigation, and their interests must persist throughout its entirety. See United States Parole Comm'n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 396, 63 L.Ed.2d 479, 100 S.Ct. 1202 (1980). A case becomes moot when the dispute between the parties no longer rages, or when one of the parties loses his personal interest in the outcome of the suit. Holstein v. City of Chicago, 29 F.3d 1145, 1147 (7th Cir. 1994). Therefore, "[a] case is moot when there is no live controversy between the parties on the merits of the underlying claim." Breneisen v. Motorola, Inc., 656 F.3d 701, 706 (7th Cir. 2011). "Once the defendant offers to satisfy the plaintiff's entire demand, there is no dispute over which to litigate, and a plaintiff who refuses to acknowledge this loses outright under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), because he has no remaining stake." Holstein, 29 F.3d at 1147.

II. BACKGROUND

Ms. Webster received a bankruptcy discharge of a mortgage loan owed to non-party BAC Home Loan servicing, which loan Bayview began to service in 2012. On December 13, 2013, Ms. Webster filed a Complaint against Bayview, asserting claims for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692-1692p (Filing No. 1). Ms. Webster alleged that Bayview called her cellular telephone six times using an automatic telephone dialing system without her prior express consent to do so, which violated the TCPA. Ms. Webster asked Bayview to cease all communications with her, but Bayview continued to make telephone calls to her cellular telephone. Bayview also sent a letter to Ms. Webster regarding the debt that had been discharged through bankruptcy proceedings, which she alleges violated the FDCPA. In her Complaint, Ms. Webster requested an award of "actual and compensatory damages permissible under the FDCPA and TCPA statutes, " an order "enjoin[ing] the Defendant from committing any future violations of the FDCPA and TCPA, " and a declaratory judgment that Bayview violated the FDCPA and TCPA (Filing No. 1 at 4). On March 31, 2014, Bayview filed its Answer to Ms. Webster's Complaint (Filing No. 24). Bayview denied the allegations that it had violated the TCPA and the FDCPA.

On May 13, 2014, Ms. Webster filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (Filing No. 27). Attached to the Motion for Leave was Ms. Webster's proposed amended complaint, which asserted Ms. Webster's individual TCPA and FDCPA claims and also added class claims under the TCPA (Filing No. 27-1). The proposed amended complaint alleged that Bayview made three additional telephone calls to Ms. Webster's cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system after Ms. Webster had filed her Complaint in December 2013. The proposed amended complaint also requested an award of damages, attorney fees and costs, and injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as certification of Ms. Webster's proposed class.

Also on May 13, 2014, Ms. Webster also filed a Motion for Class Certification, requesting that the Court certify her proposed class in her proposed amended complaint, which had been tendered to the Court but not yet filed (Filing No. 29). Ms. Webster explained the reason for her simultaneous filing of the Motion for Class Certification and Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint:

Plaintiff files this motion at this early juncture in order to avoid being "picked off" through a Rule 68 offer of judgment or individual settlement offer. See Damasco v. Clearwire Corp., 662 F.3d 891, 895-96 (7th Cir. 2011) (holding named plaintiff's lack of a personal stake in the action deprived the court of jurisdiction over class claims where defendant offered to fully satisfy plaintiff's individual claims before a motion for class certification had been filed); see also Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 133 S.Ct. 1523, 1529, 185 L.Ed.2d 636 (2013). (Filing No. 29 at 4.) A status conference with the Magistrate Judge was held on May 20, 2014. (Filing No.40). Thereafter, the Magistrate Judge granted Bayview's unopposed motion for extension of time to June 17, 2014 to file a response to the motions to amend and certify class.

On June 13, 2014, before the pending motions became ripe for ruling, Bayview offered to tender to Ms. Webster the full amount of relief sought in her Complaint. (Filing No. 49-1.) Four days later, on June 17, 2014, Bayview filed a Motion to Strike Ms. Webster's Motion for Class Certification on the basis that the operative pleading in the case, Ms. Webster's Complaint filed on December 13, 2013, asserted only individual claims under the TCPA and the FDCPA, and no class claims were pending in this Court. (Filing No. 46). Because the Motion for Leave to Amend was still pending and the proposed amended complaint asserting class claims was not yet filed, Bayview asserted that Ms. Webster's Motion for Class Certification was premature and should be stricken. On June 17, 2014, Bayview also filed its Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction (Filing No. 47). Bayview based its Motion to Dismiss on its offer of full relief and Ms. Webster's rejection of the offer. Bayview also filed a Motion for Oral Argument on its Motion to Dismiss (Filing No. 50).

On June 19, 2014, Ms. Webster rejected Bayview's offer (Filing No. 57-2).

III. DISCUSSION

As Bayview correctly asserted in its Motion to Dismiss, the operative pleading in this action is Ms. Webster's Complaint, which was filed on December 13, 2013. Ms. Webster's Complaint asserted two individual, personal claims against Bayview for alleged violations of the TCPA and the FDCPA. Class claims ...


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