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Allgire v. Hovg, LLC

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

March 16, 2017

THOMAS EARL ALLGIRE, Plaintiff,
v.
HOVG, LLC d/b/a BAY AREA CREDIT SERVICE, LLC, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         This cause is before the Court on the Defendant's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 10).[1] The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the Defendant's motion for the reasons and to the extent set forth below.

         I. RULE 12(b)(1) STANDARD

         The Defendant moves to dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction over the Plaintiff's claims and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Defendant brought its motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), however, because the Court addresses the Defendant's challenge to subject matter jurisdiction first, it examines the Defendant's motion under the standard applicable to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).

         In ruling on such a motion, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws reasonable inferences in the Plaintiff's favor. Capitol Leasing Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993). The Court, however, may “properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted . . . to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.” Miller v. F.D.I.C., 738 F.3d 836, 840 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation omitted); see also Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 443-44 (7th Cir. 2009) (discussing evidentiary standards for facial and factual challenges to subject matter jurisdiction). The Plaintiff in this matter bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); Apex Digital, Inc., 572 F.3d at 443. If it concludes that it has no jurisdiction, “[the] court must dismiss the case without ever reaching the merits.” Capitol Leasing Co., 999 F.2d at 191.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff received numerous calls and correspondence from various parties seeking payment on medical debts, including calls from the Defendant, which the Plaintiff did not answer. On April 14, 2016, the Plaintiff placed a return call to the Defendant. He initially spoke with Johnny Lawrence, an employee of the Defendant. Lawrence advised the Plaintiff that the Defendant was collecting a medical debt in the amount of $421.47 incurred by the Plaintiff for services he received from Indiana Emergency Physicians. During the call, the Plaintiff was transferred to a different employee, David Fox. Fox suggested that the Plaintiff could settle the debt by paying the discounted sum of $318.00. Fox described the discounted sum of $318.00 as a 25-percent discount on the amount of the debt. Reducing the $421.47 debt by 25 percent leaves $316.10, not $318.00. Subsequent to the April 14, 2016 call, the Plaintiff did not make any payment to the Defendant.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) because it misled him by describing the discounted settlement amount to be equal to 25 percent of the total amount of the debt when the dollar amount stated was $1.90 more than 25 percent of the total debt. Specifically, he alleges that the Defendant violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(2)(A) and e(10) which provide that:

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is in violation of this section: . . . (2) The false representation of --
(A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; . . .
(10) The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.

15 U.S.C. §1692e. The Plaintiff also alleges that the Defendant violated 15 U.S.C. §1692f, which provides that “A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.” The Defendant maintains that the Plaintiff lacks standing in this matter and further contends that any misrepresentation it may have made to the Plaintiff was not material and, therefore, not actionable under the FDCPA.

         The issue presently before the Court is whether the Plaintiff has standing. The existence of a case and controversy is a prerequisite for the exercise of federal judicial power under Article III. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 559; Sprint Spectrum L.P. v. City of Carmel, Indiana, 361 F.3d 998, 1002 (7th Cir. 2004). The prerequisite is satisfied only where a plaintiff has standing. SprintCommc'ns Co., L.P. v. APCC Servs., Inc., 554 U.S. 269, 273 (2008) (citing DaimlerChryslerCorp. v. Cuno,547 U.S. 332, 342 (2006)). This Court cannot assume a plaintiff has demonstrated standing in order to proceed to the merits of the underlying ...


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