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Mincey v. Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 26, 2019

LORINDA MINCEY, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON CAPITAL SYSTEMS, LLC, Defendant.

          YAAKOV SAKS STEIN SAKS, PLLC Attorneys for Plaintiff Lorinda Mincey.

          AARON R. EASLEY SESSIONS, FISHMAN, NATHAN & ISRAEL Attorneys for Defendant Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

          This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC’s (“Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Lorinda Mincey’s (“Plaintiff”) Complaint (the “Motion to Dismiss”). (Docket No. 5). Plaintiff has filed opposition. (Docket No. 8). For the reasons expressed below, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         We take our recitation of the facts from Plaintiff’s Complaint. Sometime before February 6, 2018, Plaintiff incurred a debt, as that term is defined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (Docket No. 1 (“Compl.”) at ¶¶9-10, 12). On or about February 6, 2018, Defendant, a debt collector, sent Plaintiff a letter regarding that debt (the “February 6 Letter”). (Compl. ¶16; Docket No. 1-1). The February 6 Letter contains general information about the debt and also includes a notice advising the recipient about how to object to the validity of the debt, commonly termed a “validation notice” (the “Validation Notice”). The terms of the Validation Notice are at the center of this action, and provide as follows:

NOTICE: Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any potion 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 of it, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgment or verification.
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.

(Docket No. 1-1).

         On January 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed a two-count Complaint alleging that Defendant’s Validation Notice violates the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692e (“Section 1692e”), because it makes a “false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of [the] debt[.]” (Compl. ¶¶32-34). More specifically, Plaintiff asserts that the Validation Notice provides unclear instructions on how Plaintiff must object to the validity of the debt. Plaintiff suggests that the Validation Notice could be read as permitting either written or non-written objections, and is therefore, “open to more than one reasonable interpretation, at least one of which is inaccurate.” (Compl. ¶¶32-33). For the same reasons, Plaintiff alleges Defendant’s Validation Notice violates 15 U.S.C. § 1692g (“Section 1692g”) by omitting an instruction that any validation request or dispute of the debt must be made in writing. (Compl. ¶38).

         On February 15, 2019, Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docket No. 5). Plaintiff opposed Defendant’s motion. (Docket No. 8). As such, the present Motion to Dismiss is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.

         B. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

          When 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).

         “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] 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) (alteration in original) (citations omitted) (first citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957); Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994); and then citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

To determine the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must take three steps. First, the court must “tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Second, the court should identify allegations that, “because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Third, “whe[n] there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should ...

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