The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle
Plaintiff Jean Eddis filed this putative class action against two Defendants, Pressler and Pressler, L.L.P. and Midland Funding L.L.C., alleging that the debt-collection letter she received from Defendants was deceptive, unfair and confusing under 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA" or "the Act"). Defendant Midland Funding and Plaintiff have previously entered into a joint stipulation of dismissal as to Midland Funding. [Docket Item 19.]
Presently before the Court is the motion to dismiss of Defendant Pressler and Pressler, L.L.P. ("Pressler" or "Defendant"). [Docket Item 14.] The principal issues to be decided are whether Defendant's debt collection letter (1) overshadowed or contradicted the debt validation provisions mandated by section 1692g, or (2) falsely represented or implied that the debt collection letter was sent from an attorney in violation of section 1692e. Because, in part, the Court has determined that the letter violates neither of these provisions, as explained in greater detail below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Pressler and Pressler.
The following are taken from the Complaint and indisputably authentic documents that form the basis of the claims; the following facts are assumed to be true for the purposes of this Opinion. Goldenberg v. Indel, Inc., 741 F. Supp. 2d 618, 624 (D.N.J. 2010). Plaintiff is an individual who resides in Haddon Township, Camden County, New Jersey. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant Pressler is a New Jersey law firm. Compl. ¶ 10. On February 24, 2011, Defendant sent a letter to Plaintiff seeking to recover a debt she owed to Midland Funding, L.L.C. on a credit card obligation Midland Funding purchased from First National Bank of Omaha. Def's Brief in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A; Compl. ¶¶ 5-7, 12. The letter was presented on Defendant's law firm letterhead but it was unsigned. Compl. ¶ 13; Williamson Cert., Ex. A. The letter, after referencing Plaintiff's name, account and information, states as follows:
We shall afford you this opportunity to pay this debt immediately and avoid further action against you. Make your check or money order payable to Pressler and Pressler, LLP and include your File Number  and remit to: Pressler and Pressler, LLP 7 Entin Rd. Parsippany, NJ 07054-5020 Payment can be made on the website www.paypress1er.com. We also accept Visa/Mastercard and American Express. If you choose this payment option return this letter along with: Name as it appears on Credit Card / Street # & Zip / Expires / Credit Card # / Security Code / Amount / Signature If you are unable to pay the balance in full and would like to discuss payment arrangements, please contact us at (888) 312-8600.
At this time, no attorney with this firm has personally reviewed the particular circumstances of your account. However, if you fail to contact this office, our client may consider additional remedies to recover the balance due.
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PROVIDED TO YOU PURSUANT TO FEDERAL STATUTE:
This communication is from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose. Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receipt of this notice that you dispute the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office in writing within 30 days from receipt of this notice that the debt or any portion thereof is disputed, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgment or verification. Upon your request in writing, within 30 days after receiving this notice, this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
Def's Brief in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A.
On July 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court against Defendants Pressler and Midland Funding. [Docket Item 1] On November 14, 2011, Defendant Midland Funding and Plaintiff entered into a joint stipulation of dismissal as to Midland Funding. [Docket Item 19.] Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Pressler's debt collection practices violated sections 1692e and 1692g of the FDCPA, as well as the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct. Compl. ¶¶ 13-22. Defendant Pressler subsequently filed the motion to dismiss that is presently before the Court.
To give a 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 (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, and more than mere conclusory allegations). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, --, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1951 (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)). "In deciding motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts generally consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of a claim." Lum v. Bank of Am., 361 F.3d 217, 222 n.3 (3d Cir. 2004).
B. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Congress enacted the FDCPA in 1977 in response to the "abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors." 15 U.S.C. § 1692(a). Congress was concerned that "[a]busive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to material instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy." Id. The purpose of the Act, Congress explained, was not only to eliminate abusive debt collection practices, but also to "insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged." Id. § 1692(e). After determining that the ...