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Charlene Jackson v. Midland Funding

December 10, 2010

CHARLENE JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MIDLAND FUNDING, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joseph E. Irenas

OPINION

IRENAS, Senior District Judge:

Plaintiff Charlene Jackson brings this Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p, suit against Midland Funding, LLC ("Midland"), the debt collector who sought to collect a debt Jackson incurred when she purchased a personal computer. *fn1

Jackson asserts that Midland violated the FDCPA when it filed an allegedly time-barred lawsuit to collect the debt. Two issues are presented by the instant Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment: (1) is this suit barred by New Jersey's entire controversy doctrine?; and (2) does New Jersey's or Pennsylvania's statute of limitations apply to the underlying debt collection suit? The Court holds that this suit is not barred by the entire controversy doctrine and Pennsylvania's statute of limitations applies. Therefore, Jackson's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted and Midland's Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied.

I.

The relevant facts are undisputed. In 2001, while Jackson was living in Pennsylvania, she opened a Gateway-branded Citibank credit account in order to finance the purchase of a Gateway computer for her daughter. In April, 2003, Jackson defaulted on the debt. At that time she was still living in Pennsylvania.

In 2008, Midland purchased Jackson's delinquent debt obligation and began collection efforts. *fn2 Those efforts culminated in Midland filing a lawsuit against Jackson in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, on January 5, 2009. The complaint sought a judgment of $753.21 plus accruing interest to the date of judgment. By the time the lawsuit was filed, Jackson was living in Sicklerville, New Jersey and was properly served with process there.

On August 17, 2009, Midland apparently withdrew its complaint and the case was dismissed with prejudice.

This suit followed. The single-count Complaint alleges that Midland violated the FDCPA by filing a time-barred lawsuit to collect the debt. Midland moves for summary judgment. Jackson cross-moves for summary judgment as to liability only.

II.

"Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment is proper 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the facts and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Pollock v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Long Lines , 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986). "'With respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof, the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing'- that is, pointing out to the district court- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.'" Conoshenti v. Pub. Serv. Elec. & Gas , 364 F.3d 135, 145-46 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Celotex , 477 U.S. at 325). The role of the Court is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).

The summary judgment standard is not affected when the parties file cross-motions for summary judgment. See Appelmans v. City of Phila. , 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d Cir. 1987). Such motions "'are no more than a claim by each side that it alone is entitled to summary judgment, and the making of such inherently contradictory claims does not constitute an agreement that if one is rejected the other is necessarily justified or that the losing party waives judicial consideration and determination whether genuine issues of material fact exist.'" Transportes Ferreos de Venez. II CA v. NKK Corp. , 239 F.3d 555, 560 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Rains v. Cascade Indus., Inc. , 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968)). If after review of cross-motions for summary judgment the record reveals ...

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