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Kausar v. GC Services Ltd. Partnership

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 8, 2017

RUKHSANA KAUSAR, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
GC SERVICES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ESTHER SALAS, U.S.D.J.

         Before the Court is Defendant GC Services Limited Partnership's (“Defendant”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (D.E. No. 44 (“Motion”)). The Court has considered the parties' arguments in support of and in opposition to Defendant's Motion and decides this matter without oral argument under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion.

         I. Background

         The parties are familiar with the facts and procedural posture of this case, so the Court will be brief. Plaintiff Rukhsana Kausar alleges that Defendant violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) when it sent Plaintiff-and others similarly situated-a debt-collection letter that omitted certain statutorily required disclosures. (See generally D.E. No. 1 (“Compl.”)). In particular, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's debt-collection letter violated the FDCPA because it failed to communicate that requests (i) to verify the debt or (ii) to obtain the name and address of the original creditor must be in writing, as required by 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692g(a)(4)-(5). (See, e.g., id. ¶ 36). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant, by failing to advise that the foregoing requests must be made in writing, “used a false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer” in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(10). (Id. ¶ 46).

         Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint under Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant argues that Plaintiff lacks Article III standing because she fails to allege “an intangible harm that satisfies the injury-in-fact requirement.” (D.E. No. 44-1 (“Def. Br.”)). Defendant's Motion is based primarily on Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540 (2016). Plaintiff opposed Defendant's Motion (D.E. No 46 (“Pl. Br.”)), which is now ripe for adjudication.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Article III Standing

         Article III of the United States Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to actual “cases” or “controversies.” U.S. Const., art. III, § 2. To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) an “injury in fact”; (2) a “causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of”; and (3) a likelihood “that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.” Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). “The plaintiff, as the party invoking federal jurisdiction, bears the burden of establishing these elements.” Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1547 (citation omitted).

         To allege an injury-in-fact, “a plaintiff must claim the invasion of a concrete and particularized legally protected interest resulting in harm that is actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.” In re Nickelodeon Consumer Privacy Litig., 827 F.3d 262, 272 (3d. Cir. 2016) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). “A harm is particularized if it affects the plaintiff in a personal and individual way.” Id. (citation, internal quotation marks, and alteration omitted). A harm “is concrete if it is de facto; that is, it must actually exist rather than being only abstract.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         B. 12(b)(1) Motion

         A motion to dismiss based on lack of standing must be brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because standing is jurisdictional. Ballentine v. United States, 486 F.3d 806, 810 (3d Cir. 2007). A motion to dismiss under 12(b)(1) may either (1) “attack the complaint on its face” or (2) “attack the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleadings.” Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). For the former (i.e., a facial attack), “the court looks only at the allegations in the pleadings and does so in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” U.S. ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). For the latter (i.e., a factual attack), “it is permissible for a court to review evidence outside the pleadings.” Id. (citation omitted).

         III. Discussion

         As an initial matter, the Court construes Defendant's Motion as a facial attack because Defendant does not appear to challenge the validity of Plaintiff's factual claims. Rather, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's allegations, even accepted as true, are insufficient to establish Article III standing. (See, e.g., Def. Br. at 8-10).

         Next, the Court turns to the sufficiency of Plaintiff's allegations for purposes of establishing Article III standing. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's allegations are purely statutory and procedural. (Id. at 10). To that end, Defendant avers that Plaintiff's “only alleged injury is that Defendant did not make the correct disclosures mandated by section 1692g.” (Id. at 11). Consequently, Defendant argues that “[s]uch a bare procedural violation alone does not constitute an intangible harm that satisfies the injury-in-fact ...


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