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Jenkins v. CitiFinancial

November 23, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge


This matter comes before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. Defendant moves for dismissal because Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Specifically, Defendant contends that Plaintiff failed to properly plead her privacy invasion (tort of false light) and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's Motion shall be granted.


Plaintiff filed her claims in the Superior Court of New Jersey, and Defendant removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1367, 1441. This Court has diversity jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because the parties are diverse and the requisite amount in controversy is met.


Plaintiff, Carolyn Jenkins (hereinafter "Jenkins"), applied for and accepted a consumer loan from Defendant, CitiFinancial (hereinafter "Citi"). During the spring of 2009, Jenkins became insolvent and was unable to meet her monthly financial obligations on many of her liabilities, including her debt to Citi. In an effort to resolve her financial difficulties, Jenkins accepted the services of a non-profit consumer credit counseling center. This organization contacted Citi and requested a reduction in Jenkins' interest rates and monthly payment. Citi, however, refused to participate in Jenkins' attempted consolidation.

Although Jenkins made a partial payment to Citi in May 2009, Citi began to call Jenkins numerous times per day on her cellular, residence, and work phones. The calls to her place of employment prompted Jenkins to inform Citi that she is not permitted to accept personal calls at work. In July 2009, Jenkins sent a letter to Citi requesting that Citi cease all calls to her place of employment.

A few days later, however, Citi's agent called Jenkins at work to verify her employment. Jenkins confirmed her employment and instructed Citi's agent to stop calling. Despite this request, Citi's agent promptly called Jenkins place of employment again to speak with her supervisor. During the conversation, Citi's agent informed Jenkins' supervisor that Citi wanted to verify Jenkins' employment so Citi could garnish her wages for the past due debt. According to Jenkins, Citi continues to call her about the debt.

On January 22, 2010, Jenkins filed her Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County. Citi subsequently filed its notice of removal and removed this case on February 24, 2010. In lieu of answering, on March 10, 2010, Citi filed this Motion to Dismiss Jenkins' Complaint. Jenkins opposes Citi's Motion.


A. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1953 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions' . . . ." (citation omitted)). Under the Twombly/Iqbal standard, the Third Circuit has instructed a two-part analysis. First, a claim's factual and legal elements should be separated; a "district court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950).

Second, a district court "must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950). "[A] complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief." Id.; see Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) ("The Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating . . . a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' ...

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