United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JERRY L. KING, Plaintiff,
GLOBAL CREDIT NETWORK, Defendant.
Mr. Jerry L. King, Pleasantville, NJ, Plaintiff, pro se
Richard J. Perr, Esq., Jennifer Tatum Root, Esq., FINEMAN, KREKSTEIN & HARRIS, PC, Philadelphia, PA, Attorneys for Defendant Global Credit Network.
JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Global Credit Network's motion for sanctions or, in the alternative, for summary judgment [Docket Item 32] and Plaintiff Jerry L. King's "motion/affidavit for summary judgment in equity" [Docket Item 34.] The instant action arises from a debt Plaintiff owed to the University of Pennsylvania for dental work performed in February, 2011, which was referred to Defendant for collection. Plaintiff attempts to assert claims against Defendant for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FRCA") and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), alleging that Defendant attempted to collect on the debt and reported the debt to credit reporting agencies, despite failing to provide validation of the debt to Plaintiff.
Since Defendant removed this action to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in February, 2013, Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, has repeatedly defied the Court's orders and willfully refused to provide responses to Defendant's discovery requests. Plaintiff has flouted three orders directing Plaintiff to comply with the discovery process despite the express threat of sanctions, including dismissal.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for sanctions and dismiss Plaintiff's case in its entirety with prejudice.
The Court accepts the following facts as undisputed. Plaintiff had dental work performed by the University of Pennsylvania in February, 2011, but Plaintiff failed to pay off the entire balance owed to the University of Pennsylvania. On or about February 28, 2012, the University of Penn Dental Care Network referred Plaintiff's account with Defendant for collection. On or about February 29, 2012, Defendant sent Plaintiff an initial notice letter containing a validation notice pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. Defendant sent the letter to Plaintiff at 614 S. 8th Street, Apt. #262, Philadelphia, PA 19147, the address associated with Plaintiff's account, and the letter was not returned to Defendant. Plaintiff did not dispute the debt in writing or request validation of the account within 30 days. Prior to August, 2012, Defendant never received any written correspondence from Plaintiff.
On May 1, 2012, Defendant sent Plaintiff a second letter notifying him that the account would be furnished on his credit report. On August 1, 2012, Defendant reported the account at issue to the credit reporting agencies. On August 27, 2012, Plaintiff called Defendant and complained that the account appeared on his credit report. That same day, Defendant reported the account to the credit reporting agencies as disputed. Defendant did not receive notice of a dispute regarding Plaintiff's account from any consumer reporting agency. Defendant stopped collecting on the account after Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit in September, 2012, and on October 18, 2012, the account was deleted from Plaintiff's credit report.
B. Procedural background
On September 11, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County, Law Division, Docket No. ATL DC-008236-12, asserting claims against Global Credit under the FRCA and the FDCPA. [Docket Item 9-2.] On February 18, 2013, Defendant removed this case to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. [Docket Item 1.] On April 11, 2013, Defendant served upon Plaintiff its First Set of Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents and Requests for Admissions. [Docket Item 25-2.] By Order dated April 19, 2013, Magistrate Judge Schneider ordered the parties to respond to all outstanding document requests by May 31, 2013. [Docket Item 13.] On May 16, 2013, Defendant notified Plaintiff that his discovery responses were overdue and resent Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents and Requests for Admissions. [Docket Item 25-3.] In response, Plaintiff sent Defendant a letter dated May 18, 2013, stating that Defendant's discovery requests were "DENIED." [Docket Item 25-4.] On May 31, 2013, Defendant served Plaintiff with its answers to Plaintiff's discovery requests. [Docket Item 32-2.]
On June 17, 2013, Defendant requested that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's action in its entirety. [Docket Item 25-5.] Soon thereafter, Plaintiff did not attend the status conference held on June 27, 2013. [Docket Item 19.] Judge Schneider then entered an Order on June 28, 2013 compelling Plaintiff to respond to Defendant's interrogatories and document requests by July 15, 2013. [Docket Item 20.] Judge Schneider's Order stated that "plaintiff is put on notice that if he fails to comply with this Order he is subject to sanctions, including possible dismissal of this lawsuit." Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendant's discovery requests by July 15, 2013. Plaintiff appeared at the next scheduled discovery conference on August 13, 2013, but failed to furnish any ...