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Santiago v. Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 5, 2018

NORMA I. SANTIAGO, on behalf of herself and those similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
CAVALRY PORTFOLIO SERVICES, LLC, CAVALRY SPV I, LLC, JOHN DOES #1-10, Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Norma I. Santiago, opened a JCPenney store credit card, incurred debt, and defaulted. The debt is currently held by defendants Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC and Cavalry SPV I, LLC (together, "Cavalry"). Ms. Santiago sues Cavalry, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and die New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("NJCFA"). Now before the court is Cavalry's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         A. Factual History

         Plaintiff Norma I. Santiago opened a JCPenney store credit card account in May 2006. (DSMF ¶ 1; PRSMF ¶ 1). Ms. Santiago claims that this credit card could be used at JCPenney only. (PRSMF ¶ 1). Cavalry states that in the relevant period the credit card could be used at JCPenney, CVS, Rite Aid, and Sephora.com. (ECF No. 37, ¶¶ 6-7). The applicable terms and conditions were mailed to Ms. Santiago at her home. (DSMF ¶ 2; PRSMF ¶ 2).

         According to Cavalry, the terms and conditions for the JCPenney card state as follows: "You may use your Card or Account to purchase goods or services (including mail, internet, catalog and phone orders, if any) at JCPenney or other companies authorized to accept the Card ("Purchases") up to any limit ("Credit Limit") we may establish." (DSMF ¶ 4; PRSMF ¶ 4). Ms. Santiago, however, disputes that Cavalry has proffered the agreement that actually governs her card. (PRSMF ¶ 4). She also claims that the JCPenney card is a store card, not a "general purpose credit card" that can be used anywhere. (PRSMF ¶¶ 4-5).

         JCPenney did not provide financing for the JCPenney card; financing was provided by GE Money Bank. (DSMF ¶ 10; PRSMF ¶ 10). Cavalry claims that JCPenney was not a party to the agreement between Ms. Santiago and GE Money Bank, but Ms. Santiago says it was. (DSMF ¶ 12; PRSMF ¶ 12). Ms. Santiago admits that neither GE Money Bank, GE Capital Bank, GE Capital Retail Bank, or Synchrony Bank (a successor of GE Capital Retail Bank) ever sold her goods or services. (DSMF ¶¶ 14, 20; PRSMF ¶¶ 14, 20).

         Ms. Santiago admits to making purchases with the JCPenney card until May 12, 2009. (PRSMF ¶ 6). Cavalry claims that Ms. Santiago used the card through October 2010. (DSMF ¶ 6). Ms. Santiago made her last payment on the JCPenney card on September 6, 2010. (DSMF ¶ 15; PRSMF ¶ 15). She defaulted on the amount owed in October 2010. (DSMF ¶ 15; PRSMF ¶ 15). On or about March 17, 2011, GE Money Bank wrote to Ms. Santiago regarding the debt owed on the JCPenney card. (DSMF ¶ 16; PRSMF ¶ 16).

         On April 20, 2011, GE Money Bank sold, assigned, and transferred to Equable Ascent Financial, LLC ("EAF") all of GE Money Bank's right, tide, and interest in Ms. Santiago's account. (DSMF ¶ 17; PRSMF ¶ 17). On July 2, 2013, EAF sold, assigned, and transferred to Cavalry SPV all of EAF's right, title, and interest in Ms. Santiago's account. (DSMF ¶ 18; PRSMF ¶ 18).

         Ms. Santiago did not make any further payments on the JCPenney card after September 2010. (DSMF ¶ 19; PRSMF ¶ 19). On or about April 29, 2015, Cavalry filed suit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, to collect the balance owing on the account. (DSMF ¶ 19; PRSMF ¶ 19). Cavalry claims the balance was $1, 678.38. (DSMF ¶ 19).

         B. Procedural History

         On or about November 4, 2015, Ms. Santiago filed an amended complaint against Cavalry in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division. (ECF No. 1, ¶ 2; ECF No. 1-1). It alleged that Cavalry violated the FDCPA and the NJCFA; it sought to certify a class of others similarly situated. (ECF No. 1, ¶ 3; ECF No. 1-1, ¶ 1, ¶¶ 46-59). Cavalry removed the action to this federal court. (ECF No. 1).

         Ms. Santiago alleges that Cavalry sought to collect an invalid debt. (ECF No. 13, ¶ 37). According to Ms. Santiago, the four-year statute of limitations in Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code ("Article 2") had expired when Cavalry filed its April 29, 2015 collection action. Cavalry disagrees, arguing that a six-year statute of limitations applies. Now before the court is Cavalry's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 30).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Kreschollek v. S. Stevedoring Co., 223 F.3d 202, 204 (3d Cir. 2000). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving parry. See Boyle v. County of Allegheny Pennsylvania, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact remains. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). "[W]ith respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof ... the burden on die moving party may be discharged by 'showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support die nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.

         Once die moving party has met tiiat threshold burden, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574 (1986). The opposing party must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (setting forth types of evidence on which nonmoving party must rely to support its assertion that genuine issues of material fact exist). "[Unsupported allegations ... and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorporation,912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990); see also Gleason v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 243 F.3d 130, 138 (3d Cir. 2001) ("A nonmoving party has created a genuine issue of material fact if it has provided sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find in its favor at trial."). If die nonmoving party has failed "to make a showing sufficient to establish die existence of an element essential to that parry's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, ... there can be 'no genuine issue of ...


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