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Yungreis v. Tenaglia & Hunt, P.A.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 8, 2019

PHILIP YUNGREIS, on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated, Plaintiff,
TENAGLIA & HUNT, P.A. and JOHN DOES 1-25, Defendants.


          Hon. Kevin McNulty United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of defendant Tenaglia & Hunt, P.A. ("T&H"), to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (DE 5) The complaint alleges that certain language in a debt collection letter failed to clearly advise the debtor of his rights and is therefore invalid under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C § 1692 et seq., Defendant's brief points out that the language in its letter virtually tracks that of the statute, and that identical language has been upheld in multiple cases in this district. For the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss the complaint will be granted.


         The standards governing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted are familiar. For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. New Jersey Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v. Tishman Const. Corp. of New Jersey, 760 F.3d 297, 302 (3d Cir. 2014).

         A short and plain statement of plaintiffs entitlement to relief will do. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Nevertheless, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." BellAtl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level, so that a claim is "plausible on its face." Id. at 570; see also West Run Student Housing Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat. Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2013). That facial-plausibility standard is met "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement'... it asks for more than a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         The Court in considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is confined to the allegations of the complaint, with narrow exceptions:

"Although phrased in relatively strict terms, we have declined to interpret this rule narrowly. In deciding motions under Rule 12(b)(6), courts may consider "document[s] integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint," In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (emphasis in original), or any "undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiffs claims are based on the document," PBGC v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993)."

In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI), 822 F.3d 125, 134 n.7 (3d Cir. 2016). See also Estate of Roman v. City of Newark, 914 F.3d 789, 796-97 (3d Cir. 2019) ("complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, [and] matters of public record" as well as documents "that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss," if "undisputedly authentic" and "the [plaintiffs] claims are based [on them]"); Schmidt v. Skolas, 770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir. 2014) ("However, an exception to the general rule is that a 'document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint' may be considered 'without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment.' ") (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory, 114 F.3d at 1426); Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). "The rationale underlying this exception is that the primary problem raised by looking to documents outside the complaint-lack of notice to the plaintiff-is dissipated '[w]here plaintiff has actual notice ... and has relied upon these documents in framing the complaint.” In re Burlington, 114 F.3d at 1426 (quoting Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3-4 (1st Cir. 1993) (quoting Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 48 (2nd Cir. 1991)).

         The complaint attaches a copy of a collection letter, the wording of which is the very foundation of the allegations. ("Letter," DE 1-1) I may consider it on this motion without converting it to one for summary judgment.

         The Complaint

         The defendant, T&H, sent the plaintiff, Mr. Yungreis, Helinski, a letter dated October 18, 2018 (the "Letter"). A copy is attached to the complaint as Ex. A. (DE 1-1)) The Letter was sent by a debt collector in connection with collection of a consumer debt. It is on T&H's letterhead.

         The body of the Letter reads as follows:

Dear Philip Yungreis
Our law firm is outside counsel to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo Bank, N.A."), and has been asked to contact you regarding the unpaid balance on the above referenced account (the "Account"). Our client's records indicate that as of the date of this letter you owe $7, 486.99. This balance may increase over time due to costs and/or fees.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. has a range of payment options that may be available to assist you. Our law firm is committed to working with you to try to identify a solution to resolve your balance. If you have any questions or wish to discuss payment arrangements, please call our firm toll free at (866) 723-0578, Extension 120 to speak with Charles Hall Jr.
Please make all payments payable to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Payments may be mailed to our law firm at 395 W. Passaic St., Ste. ...

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