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Kimberly Sias v. Law Offices of andreu

February 2, 2011

KIMBERLY SIAS
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LAW OFFICES OF ANDREU, PALMA, & ANDREU, PL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Renee Marie Bumb United States District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION [Dkt. Ent. 5]

OPINION

Defendant's Counsel BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

Plaintiff Kimberly Sias (the "Plaintiff") brought this action alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. ("FDCPA"). Defendant, a Florida debt collection firm, now moves to dismiss the complaint due to lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court grants Defendant's motion to transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's allegations, as set forth in the complaint, are as follows. Defendant is a Florida debt collection firm with its principal place of business in Miami. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Defendant was hired to collect a credit card debt from plaintiff Kimberly Sias (the "Plaintiff"), who at the time resided in Florida. (Id.

¶¶ 9, 15, 24.) In August 2009, Defendant filed a motion to confirm an arbitration decision against her in the Circuit Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District of Brevard County, Florida. (Id. ¶ 17.) After Plaintiff received notice of this motion in August 2009, she contacted Defendant to obtain information about the matter and to request validation. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) Plaintiff alleges that "Defendant deceptively led [her] to believe that her only option was to go to court." (Id. ¶ 21.) She claims that Defendant assured her that she would receive a return call within two days to answer all of her questions, but that Defendant never contacted her, which she believes was "an intentional act to deprive [her] of her opportunity to challenge the arbitration and transmitted judgment." (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.)

Plaintiff subsequently relocated to New Jersey in September 2009, apparently without challenging Defendant's motion to confirm the arbitration award or notifying the Florida court or Defendant of her new address. (Id. ¶ 24.) Defendant continued to send correspondence and court pleadings to Plaintiff at the Florida address where she resided before moving to New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff alleges that she eventually received "partial paperwork" from Defendant and that she subsequently called Defendant twice between September 2009 and January 2010. *fn1

(Id. ¶ 27-29.) On or about January 25, 2010, Defendant sent a letter to Plaintiff at her former Florida address stating that it had obtained a judgment against her, that her consumer credit may be negatively impacted, and that under Florida law, it could execute upon the judgment in one or more ways, i.e., garnishment against salary or wages, a levy upon real estate, or an attachment to personal property. (Id. ¶ 32, Ex. A.) Plaintiff alleges that in February 2010, she again spoke with someone at Defendant's firm regarding the alleged debt. (Compl. ¶ 37.)

Plaintiff initiated this action with the filing of a complaint in this Court on July 27, 2010. [Dkt. Ent. 1.] Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the FDCPA by, among other things, "[h]arassing, oppressing or abusing" her and "[u]sing false, deceptive, or misleading representations" in connection with the collection of a debt. (Compl. ¶ 46.)

II. DISCUSSION

Defendant has brought the instant motions asking this Court to dismiss the complaint or, alternatively, to transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. *fn2 Because this Court holds that a § 1404(a) transfer is appropriate, the Court need not address the remaining motions.

Section 1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that: "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought." The parties do not dispute that this action could have been filed in the Southern District of Florida, where Defendant's principal place of business and sole office is located. (Pl.'s Opp. Br. 23; Def.'s Br. 20; Andreu Aff. ¶ 4, Dec. 8, 2010.)

"If the proposed alternative forum is appropriate," as it is here, "it is then within the Court's discretion to transfer the action." Taylor v. Global Credit & Collection Corp., Civ. No. 10-1476, 2010 WL 2521758, *1 (D.N.J. June 14, 2010) (citing Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 883 (3d Cir. 1995)). Indeed, § 1404(a) is "intended to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness." Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (internal citations omitted). "A determination that transfer to another jurisdiction is appropriate represents an 'exercise[ ] of structured discretion by trial judges appraising the practical inconveniences posed to the litigants and the court should a particular action be litigated in one forum rather than another.'" Lawrence v. Xerox Corp., 56 F. Supp. 2d 442, 450 (D.N.J. 1999)(internal citations omitted). Thus, the ...


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