United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEGHAN DOYLE, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiff,
AD ASTRA RECOVERY SERVICES, INC., Defendant.
BENJAMIN JARRET WOLF, JOSEPH K. JONES, JONES, WOLF &
KAPASI, LLC On behalf of Plaintiff.
MICHAEL I. METZ-TOPODAS, GARY JOHN REPKE, JR., COHEN SEGLIAS
PALLAS GREENHALL & FURMAN PC On behalf of Defendants.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter concerns claims by Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and
other similarly situated parties, against a collection agency
for its efforts to collect a debt. Presently before the Court
is the motion of Defendant to compel arbitration of
Plaintiff's claims. For the reasons expressed below,
Defendant's motion will be granted.
November 10, 2015, Plaintiff, Meghan Doyle, and Rapid Cash
entered into an agreement for an unsecured high
interestinstallment loan for $1, 500.00 that was
assigned account number ****899. Plaintiff's obligation
was sent into default, and after Rapid Cash had exhausted its
internal collection efforts, Plaintiff's obligation was
referred to an outside collection agency, Defendant, Ad Astra
Recovery Services, Inc., to undertake collection efforts.
March 17, 2017, Plaintiff sent a letter to Ad Astra disputing
the debt. Plaintiff's letter referenced account number
****899 and asked for a breakdown of the balance allegedly
owed by her. Plaintiff maintains that because Ad Astra has
failed to report the debt as disputed, Ad Astra has violated
various provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.
has filed a putative class action complaint against Ad Astra
seeking damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive
relief, arising from its alleged FDCPA violation, which
prohibits debt collectors from engaging in abusive, deceptive
and unfair practices. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges
that Ad Astra violated §§ 1692e(8) and 1692e(10) of
the FDCPA by communicating or threatening to communicate to
any person credit information which is known or which should
be known to be false, including the failure to communicate
that a debt is disputed, and using false, deceptive or
misleading representations or means in connection with its
Astra has moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
and to compel arbitration pursuant to the “Rapid Cash
Unsecured High Interest Installment Loan Agreement and
Disclosure Statement.” Plaintiff has opposed Ad
Astra's motion, arguing that the motion should be denied
because the agreement does not apply to Plaintiff's FDCPA
claims. Plaintiff's argument is premised on assigned
“special meanings” and specific definitions
stated in the agreement, as well as language in the
arbitration and class action waivers that she contends is
conflicting. Plaintiff also argues that the entire agreement
is invalid and unenforceable.
Subject matter jurisdiction
brings this action for damages and declaratory relief arising
from the Defendant's violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692
et seq., the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This Court
has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
Standard for Motion to Dismiss and to Compel
those cases in which a motion to compel arbitration can be
decided without evidence, the Court will apply the familiar
Rule 12(b)(6) standard to the face of the pleadings.
Bacon v. Avis Budget Group, Inc., 2017 WL 2525009,
at *3 (D.N.J. 2017) (citing Guidotti v. Legal Helpers
Debt Resolution, L.L.C., 716 F.3d 764, 771 (3d Cir.
2013) (directing that where “the affirmative defense of
arbitrability of claims is apparent on the face of a
complaint (or . . . documents relied upon in the complaint),
. . . the FAA would favor resolving a motion to compel
arbitration under a motion to dismiss standard without the
inherent delay of discovery”)).
even though Plaintiff's complaint does not attach the
agreement that contains the arbitration provision at issue,
the Court may consider it because Plaintiff's claims
derive from the agreement, which Plaintiff entered into with
Rapid Cash and which refers to Ad Astra as a “related
party.” Plaintiff also does not argue that
discovery is required to interpret the agreement. The Court
therefore may consider whether the action must be arbitrated
by way of a motion to dismiss.
Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) provides that a written
arbitration provision contained in a “contract
evidencing a transaction involving commerce . . . shall be
valid, irrevocable and enforceable, save upon such grounds as
exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any
contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. Under the FAA, a private
arbitration agreement is enforceable if (1) a valid
arbitration agreement exists between the parties and (2) the
dispute before it falls within the scope of the agreement.
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Conception, 563 U.S. 333,
344- 45 (2011); Century Indem. Co. v. Certain
Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, 584 F.3d 513, 525
(3d Cir. 2009).
arbitration agreements that contain waivers of class actions
are valid, AT&T Mobility LLC, 563 U.S. at 348,
arbitration clauses have been upheld in putative FDCPA class
action cases, see, e.g., Gates v. Northland
Group, Inc., 2017 WL 680258, at *1 (D.N.J. 2017);
Harris v. Midland Credit Management, Inc., 2016 WL
475349, at *3 (D.N.J. 2016); Jeffreys v. Midland Credit
Management, Inc., 2016 WL 4443164, at *1 (D.N.J. 2016).
“[T]he party resisting arbitration bears the burden of
proving that the claims at issue are unsuitable for
arbitration.” Green Tree Financial Corp.-Alabama v.
Randolph, 531 U.S. 79, 91 (2000).
Court's analysis of whether Plaintiff's claims must
be arbitrated starts with the terms of the agreement. The
“Rapid Cash Unsecured High Interest Installment Loan
Agreement and Disclosure Statement” (see Docket No.
6-3) provides in relevant part: