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Owens v. LVNV Funding, LLC

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

April 21, 2015

ALPHONSE DWANE OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
LVNV FUNDING, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Alphonse Dwane Owens brings this suit under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("FDCPA") against Defendant LVNV Funding, LLC ("LVNV"). Mr. Owens filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and LVNV filed a proof of claim in his Chapter 13 proceeding regarding a timebarred debt - that is, a debt for which the statute of limitations for collection had run. Mr. Owens then filed this suit, alleging that LVNV violated the FDCPA by filing a proof of claim on a time-barred debt. Presently pending before the Court is LVNV's Motion to Dismiss Mr. Owens's FDCPA claims, [Filing No. 12], and LVNV's Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Authority, [Filing No. 27]. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS LVNV's Motion to Dismiss, and DENIES LVNV's Motion to Cite Supplemental Authority.[1]

I.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide the defendant with "fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint "contain[s] 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). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief "to a degree that rises above the speculative level." Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

II.

BACKGROUND

The following background facts are drawn from the allegations in Mr. Owens's Complaint and information found on the docket of Mr. Owens's bankruptcy case.[2]

On June 18, 2014, Mr. Owens filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. [ See Filing No. 1 at 2; In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-13.] In his petition, he listed LVNV as a creditor. [ In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-13, Dkt. 1 at 18.] LVNV filed a proof of claim with the Bankruptcy Court in the amount of $5, 249.03. [Filing No. 1 at 2; In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-13, Claim 7-1.] On the proof of claim, LVNV stated, among other things, that the last payment on the debt and transaction on the account occurred on December 3, 2007, and that the debt was charged off by the original creditor on July 31, 2008. [Filing No. 1 at 2; In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-13, Claim 7-1 at 4.] The statute of limitations in Indiana for collecting delinquent debts is six years. See Ind. Code ยง 34-11-2-9.

Mr. Owens was represented by counsel during his bankruptcy proceeding. [ In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-1, Dkt. 1 at 2.] On February 16, 2015 - after the instant motion was filed - Mr. Owens filed an objection to LVNV's proof of claim in his bankruptcy case on the ground that Indiana's statute of limitations precludes enforcement of that debt obligation. [ In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-13, Dkt. 54 at 1.] On March 17, 2015, the Bankruptcy Court sustained Mr. Owens's objection. [ In re Owens, No. 14-05792-JMC-1, Dkt. 60 at 1.]

III.

DISCUSSION

The question presented by the parties in this Motion to Dismiss is one that this Court and federal courts across the country have recently addressed: can filing a proof of claim for a timebarred debt in a bankruptcy proceeding violate the FDCPA? The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has not decided this question, but several district courts in the Seventh Circuit have reached different conclusions. Given Mr. Owens's allegations and the arguments presented by the parties, the Court concludes that LVNV's filing of its proof of claim did not violate the FDCPA. Therefore, LVNV's Motion to Dismiss must be granted.

At the outset, the Court recognizes that it denied a motion to dismiss in a similar case: Elliott v. Cavalry Investments, LLC, 2015 WL 133745 (S.D. Ind. 2015). In that case, however, the Court explicitly noted that it was not concluding that such a motion to dismiss could never be granted, but rather that the defendants' motion "failed to raise or adequately address several issues which may impact the disposition of the case." Id. at *2. LVNV, in this case, has adequately presented those arguments to the Court, and they warrant the dismissal of Mr. Owens's FDCPA claims.

LVNV presents two general arguments as to why Mr. Owens's FDCPA claim should be dismissed. First, LVNV argues that Mr. Owens lacks standing to pursue an FDCPA claim. [Filing No. 13 at 3.] Second, LVNV maintains that Mr. Owens's allegations fail to establish an FDCPA ...


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