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Bezalel Grossberger v. Robert Saldutti

October 5, 2011

BEZALEL GROSSBERGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT SALDUTTI, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge:

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Bezalel Grossberger, pro se, filed the instant action against Defendant Robert Saldutti alleging harassment and misrepresentation claims and that the Defendant infringed upon his rights under 15 U.S.C. § 1692, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").

Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss [Docket Item 5]. The Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims against him are barred by the doctrine of res judicata, because Plaintiff's suit simply repackages the claims he brought in an earlier state court action which was dismissed with prejudice, or, in the alternative, Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a valid claim. For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendant because the Court finds Plaintiff's claims to be barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

II. BACKGROUND

The following are taken from the Complaint and assumed to be true for the purposes of this Opinion, or are contained in public documents, the contents of which are not in dispute, and thus, the Court can consider on a motion to dismiss. Goldenberg v. Indel, Inc., 741 F. Supp. 2d 618, 624 (D.N.J. 2010). On June 21, 1999, Plaintiff entered into a loan agreement with Sovereign Bank, who subsequently assigned the loan to Brown Bark I LP ("Brown Bark"). Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss 5; Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Ex. B. Brown Bark, represented by Saldutti LLC and Defendant Robert Saldutti, filed a complaint in New Jersey Superior Court on or around January 24, 2005, in an effort to collect on the loan. On May 24, 2005, a default judgment was entered by the Superior Court of New Jersey in Ocean County against Plaintiff and his business, PR Productions, in favor of Brown Bark.*fn1 Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss 5.

The precise collection efforts taken by Defendant are disputed by the parties. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's collection efforts and communication, on behalf of Brown Bark, were harassing in nature. Defendant describes numerous court/legal procedures by which he attempted to collect.*fn2 As this matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss, the Court must take the factual allegations in the Complaint as true, which the Court has done. On or around December 7, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Camden County against Defendant "demand[ing] $3,000.00 and alleg[ing] 'unauthorized harassment in attempt to obtain personal information from plaintiff without full disclosure.'" Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Ex. F.

On or around December 16, 2010, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's state court complaint. On December 22, 2010, Judge Lee B. Laskin, J.S.C. issued an order dismissing Plaintiff's state court complaint with prejudice. Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Ex. I.

On February 22, 2011, Plaintiff commenced the present action by filing his Complaint in this Court. In the present action, Plaintiff asserts that "Defendant is harassing and misrepresenting his identity and purpose when calling for personal information." Compl. ¶ 4. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts that these acts of alleged harassment were for the purpose of "pursuing [the] collection of debt" in violation of the FDCPA. Compl. ¶ 2. Defendant subsequently filed the motion to dismiss that is presently before the Court.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

To give Defendant fair notice, and permit early dismissal if the complained-of conduct does not provide adequate grounds for the cause of action alleged, a complaint must allege, in more than legal boilerplate, those facts about the defendant's conduct giving rise to liability. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) and 11(b)(3). These factual allegations must present a plausible basis for relief (i.e., something more than the mere possibility of legal misconduct). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- U.S. --, --, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1951, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

In its review of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P., the Court must "accept all factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). Additionally, a "pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 500 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). "In deciding motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts generally consider only the allegations in ...


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