United States District Court, D. New Jersey
LAZER SCHWARTZ, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
SHERLOQ REVENUE SOLUTIONS, INC. and MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION COLLECTION DIVISION INC., Defendants.
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Lazer Schwartz, individually and on behalf of all those
similarly situated, brings this action against Defendants
Sherloq Revenue Solutions, Inc. and Merchants Association
Collection Division Inc. for violations of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Now before
the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint or stay the action. ECF No.
 (“Motion”). For the reasons set forth below,
the Motion is GRANTED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Sherloq Revenue Solutions, Inc. and Merchants Association
Collection Division Inc. are Florida consumer debt collection
corporations. Compl. ¶ 7-9. Plaintiff Lazer Schwartz
(“Plaintiff”) is an individual consumer who
accrued a personal credit card debt (“the Debt”).
Compl. ¶ 5, 14-15. After defaulting on his payments, the
Debt was assigned or transferred to Defendants for
collection. Compl. ¶ 16. On December 4, 2018, Defendants
contacted Plaintiff by letter (“the Letter”) in
an effort to collect the Debt. Compl. ¶ 17. The Letter
was the first communication Plaintiff received from the
Defendants and stated:
Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving
this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt, or
any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is
valid. If you notify this office in writing within 30 days
after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of
this debt, or any portion thereof, this office will obtain
verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and
mail a copy of such judgment or verification to you. If you
request of this office in writing within 30 days after
receiving this notice this office will provide you with the
name and address of the original creditor, if different from
the current creditor.
Compl. ¶ 22. The Letter also provided a toll-free
telephone number accompanied by the words “Get in
Touch.” Compl. ¶ 18-21.
on these facts, Plaintiff filed the operative Amended
Complaint on April 18, 2019. ECF No. . Plaintiff alleges
that Sherloq Revenue Solutions, Inc. (“SRS”) and
Merchants Association Collection Division Inc.
(“Merchants”) violated two sections of the FDCPA:
15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(3) by failing to provide proper
notice of Plaintiff's right to dispute the Debt, and 15
U.S.C. § 1692e by using misleading representations in
their attempts to collect the Debt. Compl. ¶ 25, 53.
According to Plaintiff, the Letter misleads the “least
sophisticated consumer” into believing that a consumer
may dispute the Debt orally over the phone as opposed to in
writing. Compl. ¶ 22, 26-28.
THE INSTANT MOTION
2, 2019 Defendants filed the Motion seeking dismissal of this
action. ECF Nos.  & . Defendants make four
arguments in support of dismissal. First, Defendants argue
the Court should dismiss this action with prejudice because
Plaintiff named “Sherloq Financial” and not
Sherloq Revenue Solutions, Inc. ECF No.  at 10. Next,
Defendants address the merits of the Letter, arguing it fully
complies with the FDCPA's “least sophisticated
consumer” standard, is not confusing or misleading, and
clearly conveys to readers that any debt must be disputed in
writing. Id. at 11-16. Third, Defendants argue that
even though they have complied with the Third Circuit's
requirement that a debt collector must inform a consumer that
any debt disputes must be submitted in writing, Graziano
v. Harrison, 950 F.2d 107 (3d Cir. 1991),
Graziano has been effectively overruled by two
recent United States Supreme Court decisions and need not be
followed. Id. at 17. Finally, Defendants argue that
the Court should stay disposition of the Motion pending the
Third Circuit's decision in Riccio v. Sentry Credit,
Inc., No. 18-1463.
opposition to the Motion, Plaintiff argues that whether he
has named the correct party is an issue of fact that cannot
be resolved at the pleadings stage on a 12(b)(6) motion. ECF
No.  at 11. Plaintiff also argues that he has properly
stated a claim for violations under the FDCPA because the
Letter violates the “least sophisticated
consumer” standard, is confusing, and does not clearly
convey how the debt must be disputed. Id. at 13.
THE FDCPA AND THE WRITING REQUIREMENT
enacted the FDCPA to ensure the elimination of abusive debt
collection practices. Evankavitch v. Green Tree
Serv'g, LLC, 793 F.3d 355, 360 (3d Cir. 2015). To
succeed on an FDCPA claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate that
“(1) [the plaintiff is] a consumer, (2) the defendant
is a debt collector, (3) the defendant's challenged
practice involves an attempt to collect a ‘debt' as
the Act defines it, and (4) the defendant has violated a
provision of the FDCPA in attempting to collect the
debt.” Reynolds v. Encore Receivable Mgmt.,
Inc., No. CV172207JMVMF, 2018 WL 2278105, at *2 (D.N.J.
May 18, 2018) (quoting Douglass v. Convergent
Outsourcing, 765 F.3d 299, 303 (3d Cir. 2014)).
1692g(a) of the FDCPA requires that a debt collector give a
“validation notice” to a consumer including: (1)
the amount of the debt, (2) the name of the creditor the debt
is owed, (3) a statement that unless the consumer, within
thirty days of receipt of the notice, disputes the validity
of the debt, it will be presumed to be valid, (4) a statement
that if the consumer disputes the debt in writing within
thirty days, the debt collector will verify and mail a copy
to the consumer of the debt owed, and (5) a statement that
upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day
period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the
name and address of the original creditor, if it's
different from the current creditor. 15 U.S.C. §
1692g(a); see also Hooks v. Forman, Holt, Eliades &
Ravin, LLC, 717 F.3d 282, 286 (2d Cir. 2013); Riggs
v. Prober & Raphael, 681 ...