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Rudelania Frias v. Mrs Associates

November 16, 2011

RUDELANIA FRIAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MRS ASSOCIATES, INC.,
DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

Plaintiff Rudelania Frias has filed a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et. seq., against Defendant MRS Associates ("MRS"). MRS now moves to dismiss Frias's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the motions are decided without oral argument. MRS's Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This case arises out of a debt collection letter MRS sent to Frias on April 8, 2011. Compl. ¶ 6. Frias's debt was originally property of Bank of America. Id. ¶ 8. Frias alleges that this debt "has been assigned or sold to MRS Associates for collection." Id. MRS counters that it is "the third-party collector of a debt" on behalf of Bank of America. Dec. of Jeffrey Freeman ¶ 2. MRS alleges that before sending Frias the letter at issue in this case, MRS sent Frias an initial letter on February 4, 2011. Mot. to Dismiss at 2. This letter stated that Bank of America had placed Frias's account with MRS "for collection," and informed Frias that she had 30 days from receiving the letter to dispute the validity of the debt. Id. Frias makes no mention of this letter in her complaint, and instead refers to the April 8 letter as the initial contact letter from MRS. Compl. ¶ 8. The April 8 letter read, in relevant part:

RE: BANK OF AMERICA N.A. . . .

We recognize that a possible hardship or pitfall may have prevented you from satisfying your obligation. At this time, you are eligible for a substantial savings by taking advantage of one of the following options. These options will be available through Apr 29th 2011 and we are not obligated to renew these offers.

OPTION 1: A substantial savings off of your current balance, in an agreed upon number of payments. The first payment must be received in this office on or before Apr 29th 2011. OPTION 2: A greater savings off of your current balance, in ONE PAYMENT that must be received in this office on or before Apr 29th 2011. OPTION 3: A monthly payment plan on the full balance of the account.

To take advantage of one of these options, or to discuss alternate arrangements, you MUST contact our office as soon as possible at (888) 274-9847 (toll free). When you call, please let our representative know that you have received a BANK OF AMERICA N.A. Option Letter.

If we do not hear from you, we will assume that you do not intend to resolve your obligation and we will proceed with further collection activity. . . .

This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

This communication is from a debt collection agency. Dec. of William Michael Perkins; Ex. A.

On or about May 4, 2011, Frias filed this action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County. Not. of Removal ¶ 1. Frias alleges that the April 8 letter "contained multiple misstatements that are considered deceptive to any consumer, let alone the least educated consumer." Compl. ¶ 9. Specifically, Frias alleges: 1) that "the letter does not reference at all how MRS Associates received [Frias's] account"; 2) that "[P]laintiff does not consent to or ratify any assignment of the alleged debt"; 3) that "the letter offers substantial savings off the balance but no where mentions what the payment options are"; 4) that "this enticement [of substantial savings] is done illegally never giving the consumer the ability to dispute the debt"; and 5) that "the letter does not contain anywhere the required wording that a consumer has the right to dispute the debt within thirty days of receipt of the letter." Id. ¶ 10-14. Frias seeks damages totaling $3,000, which includes actual damages, statutory damages of up to $1,000 per violation of the FDCPA, costs and attorneys' fees. Id. at 10.

MRS removed the case to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 1331 and 1441 on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Not. of Removal. On July 20, 2011, MRS filed the Motion to Dismiss pursuant ...


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