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Pittman v. Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC

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

March 14, 2017

JODIE PITTMAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON CAPITAL SYSTEMS, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company, FIRST NATIONAL COLLECTION BUREAU, INC., a Nevada corporation, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark J. Dinsmore, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [Dkt. 16.] For the following reasons, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court DENY Defendants' Motion.[1]

         I. Background

         This putative class action seeks damages for Defendants' use of a form debt collection letter that Plaintiff maintains violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e-1692f. [Dkt. 1.] Some seven years ago, Plaintiff incurred a debt to Keybank. [Dkt. 1 at 3 (¶ 9).] The bank then sold the debt to Defendant Jefferson Capital Systems (“Jefferson”), which in turn enlisted Defendant First National Collection Bureau (FNCB) to collect the debt. [Id.] FNCB attempted to do so via a form letter (the “Letter”), sent in June 2016. [Id.] The Letter, which is attached as an exhibit to the Complaint, provides in relevant part:

The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, out client will not sue you for it. In circumstances, you can renew the debt and start the time period for the filing of a lawsuit against you if you take specific actions such as making certain payment on the debt or making a written promise to pay. You should determine the effect of any actions you take with respect to this debt.
In order to aid your financial situation, as may be necessary, we could set up your account on a monthly payment plan.
We would like to extend the following discounted offer:
An approximately 80 % discount payable in 4 payments . . . .
We are not obligated to renew this offer.

[Dkt. 1-3.] At the time FNCB sent the letter, the statute of limitations had run, meaning that Defendants could not sue to collect the debt. [Dkt. 1 at 3-4 (¶ 10).] Moreover, the debt could not in the ordinary course be included on Plaintiff's credit report because of its age. [Dkt. 1 at 4 (¶ 11).]

         Plaintiff brought suit in this Court in November 2016, alleging that the Letter constitutes a false, misleading, or unfair attempt to collect a debt in violation of the FDCPA. [Dkt. 1.]

         Plaintiff's claims rest primarily on two theories: that the Letter falsely implies that paying the debt would somehow aid Plaintiff's financial situation and that Defendants' decision not to sue for the time-barred debt is a matter of choice. [Dkt. 1.] Defendants have jointly moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim [Dkt. 16], which Motion is fully briefed [Dkt. 17; Dkt. 24; Dkt. 29; Dkt. 31-1] and ripe for determination.

         II. Legal Standards

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted challenges the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff's complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides that a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). In assessing the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court takes all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant, Hayes, 670 F.3d at 813, “but legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth, ” McCauley v. City of Chicago,671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011). After thus “excising” such conclusory allegations, McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616, the Court must determine whether the plaintiff's complaint “state[s] a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A complaint meets this standard where it contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the ...


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