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Rodriguez v. Certified Credit & Collection Bureau

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 9, 2019

DELIA RODRIGUEZ, on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated,, Plaintiff,
v.
CERTIFIED CREDIT & COLLECTION BUREAU, JOANNE M. POSSUMATO, DIANA M. SCHOBEL and JOHN DOES 1-10, Defendants.

          OPINION

          Hon. Kevin McNulty United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of defendants Certified Credit 8s Collection Bureau ("CCCB"), Joanne M. Possumato, and Diana M. Schobel to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (DE 11) The complaint alleges that certain language in a debt collection letter failed to clearly identify the creditor in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C § 1692 et seq. For the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss the complaint will be GRANTED.

         Standard

         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." Bell Atl. 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 Svithout 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 therefore may consider it on this motion without converting it to one for summary judgment.

         The Complaint

         Defendant CCCB sent the plaintiff, Ms. Delia Rodriguez, the Letter, which is dated January 29, 2018. A copy is attached to the complaint as Ex. A. (DE l-l)[1] The Letter was sent by a debt collector in connection with collection of a consumer debt. It is on CCCB's letterhead.

         The top portion of the Letter reads as follows:

Dated: JAN 29 2018
RE: SEE CLIENT LIST ...

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