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SUTTON v. NEW CENTURY FINANCIAL SERVICES

September 15, 2005.

ROY F. SUTTON, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW CENTURY FINANCIAL SERVICES; PRESSLER & PRESSLER; GERALD J. FELT, ESQUIRE; STEVEN P. McCABE, ESQUIRE; ROBERT P. BEAKLEY, ESQUIRE; JEFFREY J. WALDMAN, ESQUIRE; and DARYL F. TODD, J.S.C., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DICKINSON DEBEVOISE, Senior District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on Defendants', the Honorable Daryl F. Todd, Sr., Robert P. Beakley, Jeffrey J. Waldman (together "Defendants"), motion to dismiss Plaintiff's, Roy F. Sutton, Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

  Plaintiff filed his Complaint with this Court on June 20, 2005 alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, breach of an insurance contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. He seeks the entry of an order 1) enjoining enforcement of an arbitration judgment, 2) granting compensatory and punitive damages, and 3) costs and attorneys fees under 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(3). On July 28, 2005, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

  I. Background

  The following facts are those alleged in the Complaint and must be accepted as true for the purposes of the motion. Plaintiff obtained a GM credit card from Household Bank of Nevada ("HBN") and maintained disability and life insurance coverage with the card through Household Life Insurance ("HLI"), a subsidiary of HBN. On August 1, 1999, Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident and became disabled. Upon becoming disabled, Plaintiff exercised the credit disability coverage associated with the GM credit card.

  After the accident, HLI made partial and late payments and its actions resulted in Plaintiff incurring late fees and over the limit charges. Plaintiff alerted HBN and HLI of his concerns after which the late fees and over-limit charges were removed. HBN eventually lowered Plaintiff's credit limit, closed Plaintiff's account and placed it in collection; but it continued to charge Plaintiff for the credit disability insurance, over-limit charge and late charge assessments.

  Defendant New Century Financial Services purchased HBN's bad debt, and on July 23, 2004, through its attorneys, Defendants Presler & Presler, it filed a collection action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Special Civil Part, seeking an award of $4,569.52. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed his answer and counterclaim and moved for transfer of the action to the Law Division.*fn1 On September 26, 2004 Judge William Todd granted Plaintiff's motion to transfer the matter to the Law Division.

  When Plaintiff received notice that Judge Todd would be handling pretrial matters, he moved for recusal because Judge Todd had previously presided over a personal injury motor vehicle case. In or around March 2005, Judge Todd denied that motion as well as Plaintiff's subsequent motion for reconsideration, noting that there was no reason the court could not be fair and impartial in the matter.

  Plaintiff then served Defendants with discovery requests and when Defendants failed to answer, he moved to compel discovery. Judge Todd denied Plaintiff's motion to compel and an arbitration hearing was scheduled for March 24, 2005. Prior to the arbitration hearing, on February 11, 2005, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery, extend discovery, adjourn arbitration and for leave to amend counterclaim. On or about March 21, 2005, Judge Todd denied Plaintiff's motion in toto.

  On March 22, 2005, Plaintiff withdrew his counterclaim. On March 24, 2005, attorney Steven McCabe of Pressler & Pressler appeared before defendants Beakley and Waldman, both arbitrators for the Superior Court of New Jersey. At the hearing, Defendant New Century Financial Services was awarded a total of $4,014.64. On or about May 27, 2005, Judge Todd entered an order confirming the arbitration award.

  Plaintiff contends, inter alia, that "[t]he entry of judgment . . . without jurisdiction was done with malice, intent, willful, reckless, wanton disregard for plaintiff's rights and guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment and for the purpose [of] obtaining payment of a known illegal debt and are outrageous, reprehensible, and so deliberately and egregiously done as to shock the conscience", and "Defendant Judge and Members of the Bar have encouraged, tolerated, ratified and/or have been deliberately indifferent to cited misconduct of private party, New Century, and as such have abused the public trust and their sworn oath." Complaint ¶¶ 60-61.

  Defendants advance three defenses which are the grounds for their motion to dismiss: 1) this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter according to the Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine, 2) they are entitled to judicial immunity and 3) they are entitled qualified immunity.

  II. ...


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