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Castronovo v. Phoenix Financial Services, LLC

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

June 7, 2019

ROBERTA CASTRONOVO, Plaintiff,
v.
PHOENIX FINANCIAL SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          James Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge

         Roberta Castronovo believes that Phoenix Financial Services, LLC engaged in unlawful collection practices when it sent her a letter attempting to collect a debt. Phoenix claims that her complaint should be dismissed because the language of the collection letter would not confuse an objective “unsophisticated consumer.” Dkt. [14]. Finding that Phoenix's letter would not confuse a significant fraction of the population, the Court now GRANTS Phoenix's motion to dismiss.

         I. Facts and Background

          Because Phoenix has moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts and recites “the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011).

         After Ms. Castronovo fell behind on medical debt owed to EPMG of Indiana, Phoenix began collection attempts. Dkt. 1 ¶ 14. On December 8, 2017, Phoenix sent Ms. Castronovo a letter attempting to collect on the debt. Id. ¶ 15.

         The letter said:

This notice is from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used to collect the debt. Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office, in writing, within 30 days from receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt, or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgment or verification. If you request of this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice, this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.

Dkt. 1-1.

         In the same size font, the letter also said: “Please remit the full balance(s), ” and “PLEASE DETACH BOTTOM PORTION AND RETURN WITH PAYMENT.” Id.A detachable payment coupon and a return envelope for submitting payment accompanied the letter. Id.

         Ms. Castronovo filed a complaint against Phoenix alleging that the letter violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (“IDCSA”) by misleadingly or deceptively demanding the debt's immediate payment. Phoenix moved to dismiss both counts. Dkt. 13.

         II. Applicable Law

         A defendant may move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss claims for “failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must “contain 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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A facially plausible claim is one that allows “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         When ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court will “accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, ” but will not defer to “legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim.” McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616.

         III. ...


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