United States District Court, D. New Jersey
IMANI ROBINSON, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
NORTHLAND GROUP, INC., Defendant.
K. JONES BENJAMIN J. WOLF JONES, WOLF & KAPASI, LLC On
behalf of plaintiff
J. BLADY SESSIONS, FISHMAN, NATHAN & ISRAEL On behalf of
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
before the Court is the motion of defendant to dismiss
plaintiff's putative class action claims for
defendant's alleged violations of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). For the
reasons expressed below, defendant's motion will be
Imani Robinson, claims that defendant, Northland Group Inc.,
violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692, et seq., when it sent her a notice regarding an
unpaid debt. Plaintiff claims that defendant did not comply
with § 1692g(a)(3), which requires debt collectors to
inform debtors that a debt dispute must be in writing in
order to be valid. Plaintiff claims that defendant led the
debtor to believe that she could orally dispute her debt in
violation of § 1692e(10), which provides that a debt
collector may not use false, deceptive, or misleading
misrepresentations in connection with the collection of any
has moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to
state a claim for § 1692g(a)(3) and § 1692e(10)
violations. Plaintiff has opposed defendant's motion.
Court has jurisdiction over plaintiff's federal statutory
claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Standard for Motion to Dismiss
considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must accept
all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and
view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005).
It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it
contains “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Under the liberal federal pleading
rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not
necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for
the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434,
446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, “[a]lthough the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set
forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted
basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings give
defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.” Baldwin Cnty.
Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984)
(quotation and citation omitted).
district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks
“‘not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail
but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to
support the claim.'” Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007) (quoting
Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974));
see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009)
(“Our decision in Twombly expounded the
pleading standard for ‘all civil actions' . . .
.”); Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203,
210 (3d Cir. 2009) (“Iqbal . . . provides the
final nail-in-the-coffin for the ‘no set of facts'
standard that applied to federal complaints before
the Twombly/Iqbal standard, the Third Circuit has
instructed a two-part analysis in reviewing a complaint under
Rule 12(b)(6). First, the factual and legal elements of a
claim should be separated; a district court must accept all
of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may
disregard any legal conclusions. Fowler, 578 F.3d at
210 (citing Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950). Second, a
district court must then determine whether the facts alleged
in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff
has a “‘plausible claim for relief.'”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950). A
complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's
entitlement to relief. Id.; see also Phillips v.
Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008)
(stating that the “Supreme Court's Twombly
formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus:
‘stating . . . a claim requires a complaint with enough
factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required
element. This ‘does not impose a probability
requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead
‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the
need not credit either “bald assertions” or
“legal conclusions” in a complaint when deciding
a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997). The
defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been
presented. Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d
Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor,
Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).
in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must only consider the
facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents attached
thereto as exhibits, and matters of judicial notice. S.
Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Kwong Shipping Grp.
Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). A court may
consider, however, “an undisputedly authentic document
that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to
dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the
document.” Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White
Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.
1993). If any other matters outside the pleadings are
presented to the court, and the court does not exclude those
matters, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion will be treated as a summary
judgment motion pursuant to Rule 56. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
purpose of the FDCPA is “to eliminate abusive,
deceptive and unfair debt collection practices by debt
collectors, to ensure that those debt collectors who refrain
from using abusive debt collection practices are not
competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State
action to protect consumers against debt collection
abuse.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e). The FDCPA establishes
a private cause of action against debt collectors who fail to
comply with its provisions. Grubb v. Green Tree
Servicing, LLC, No. 13-07421 (FLW), 2014 WL 369626, at
*4 (D.N.J. July 24, 2014). It is a remedial statute where the
terms and language of the statute are interpreted broadly to
effectuate the purpose of the statute. Brown v. Card
Service Center, 464 F.3d 450, 453 (3d Cir. 2006).
Moreover, the FDCPA is a strict liability statute. Allen
ex rel. Martin v. LaSalle Bank, N.A., 629 F.3d 364, 368
(3d Cir. 2011) (“The FDCPA is a strict liability
statute to the extent that it imposes liability without proof
of an intentional violation.”).
to the case here, the provision governing a debt
collector's notice of debt to the consumer provides:
a) Notice of debt; contents
Within five days after the initial communication with a
consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a
debt collector shall, unless the following information is
contained in the initial communication or the consumer has
paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice
containing--(1) the amount of the debt; (2) the name of the
creditor to whom the debt is owed; (3) a statement that
unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the
notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion
thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt
collector; (4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the
debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that
the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt
collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a
judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification
or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt