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Levins v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 26, 2017

ELAINE LEVINS and WILLIAM LEVINS, on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
HEALTHCARE REVENUE RECOVERY GROUP, LLC D/B/A ARS ACCOUNT RESOLUTION SERVICES, AND JOHN and JANE DOES 1 THROGH 25 CORRECTIONS, et al. Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge

         This matter arises upon defendant Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group's (“HRRG”) motion to dismiss plaintiffs Elaine Levins and William Levins' (“Plaintiffs”) suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth in the opinion below, this motion is GRANTED.

         I.BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs, on their own behalf and on behalf of the class they seek to represent, allege that HRRG used false, deceptive, misleading, harassing, and abusive practices in connection with its attempt to collect alleged debts from Plaintiffs and similarly situated customers. See Compl. at 3. HRRG is a Limited Liability Company existing pursuant to the laws of the State of Florida. See Compl. at 2; Def. Br. Ex. B. It operates as a debt collector, with its principal place of business in City of Sunrise, Florida. Compl. at 2. “ARS Account Resolution Services” is an unincorporated division of HRRG and registered as an alternative trade name for HRRG with the State of New Jersey. See Def. Br. Ex. C.

         Plaintiffs specifically contend that HRRG collection practices violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 (“FDCPA”), because the practices:

(a) fail to provide meaningful disclosure of HRRG's identity;
(b) use false representations and deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt and to obtain information concerning a consumer; and
(c) use the name of any business, company, or organization other than the true name of the debt collections business, company, or organization.

See Compl. at 3. Plaintiffs allegedly owe a medical debt. Id. at 5. That debt was assigned, placed, or transferred to HRRG for collection. Id. HRRG then contacted Plaintiffs and third-parties via telephone and left messages in an attempt to collect the alleged debt, which HRRG contends is in default. Id. HRRG's pre-recorded message is transcribed as follows:

ARS calling. Please return our call at 1-800-694-3048. ARS is a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose. Again, our number is 1-800-694-3048. Visit us at www.arspayment.com.

See Compl. at 6.

         Plaintiffs allege that this message violates FDCPA. First, they maintain that it does not satisfy the “meaningful disclosure” requirement. § 1692(d)(6). There are other debt collectors, along with numerous other types of businesses, that use the name “ARS” in New Jersey.[1] As such, Plaintiffs maintain that the only way for Plaintiffs and/or a least sophisticated consumer to obtain the identity of the caller, and to ascertain the purpose underlying the messages, is to place a return call to the telephone number provided. Compl. at 8. This, Plaintiffs say, constitutes an inappropriate duty to investigate. Id.; Pl. Br. at 17. Plaintiffs further contend that it is deceptive and improper to abbreviate “ARS Account Resolution Services” as “ARS” for the purposes of collection because “ARS” is not the defendant corporation's true name. Plaintiffs have thus brought this case as a class action on behalf of all persons with addresses in the State of New Jersey for whom HRRG left such a voice message. Id.

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When evaluating a motion to dismiss, “courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). In other words, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as ...


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