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Dibb v. AllianceOne Receivables Management Inc.

United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma

April 2, 2015

MARGARET L. DIBB, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIANCEONE RECEIVABLES MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.

ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR APPROVAL TO AMEND COMPLAINT

ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s motion to strike (Dkt. 27), Defendant AllianceOne Receivables Management, Inc.’s (“AllianceOne”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 18), and Plaintiff’s Motion for Approval to Amend Complaint (Dkt. 29). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the file herein.

Plaintiff Margaret Dibb filed this putative class action on October 10, 2014, seeking relief under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et.seq. (“FDCPA”) and the Washington State Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86, et seq. (“CPA”) in connection with Defendant’s attempts to collect a debt arising from a returned check written to a state agency for license plates and tabs. Dkt. 1.

Defendant moves to summarily dismiss representative Plaintiff Dibb’s FDCPA claim, arguing that it was filed well after the one-year statute of limitations expired. Dkt. 18. It also moves to dismiss her CPA claim, arguing that because it is based on her FDCPA claim, it fails. Id. Plaintiff moves to strike certain portions of a declaration Defendant offered in support of its motion. Dkt. 27. Plaintiff also filed a motion for leave to amend the Complaint. Dkt. 29. The motion seeks to add a named Plaintiff, add a claim, and clarify the Complaint. Dkt. 29. For the reasons stated below, the Plaintiff’s motion to strike should be granted, in part, and denied, in part, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment should be denied, and Plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint should be granted.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff Dibb moved from Oregon to Vashon Island, Washington in 2012. Dkt. 25, at 2. She purchased license plates and tabs for her vehicle from the Washington State Department of Licensing (“DOL”) using a personal check in the amount of $90.25. Id., at 2.

Around July 10, 2013, Ms. Dibb returned to DOL to renew her tabs, and was informed that her check from the previous year had been returned for insufficient funds. Id. She was further informed that the debt had been sent to a collection agency, the Defendant here, and that she would need to contact the Defendant and pay the amount of the check plus interest before she could renew her tabs. Id. Ms. Dibb states that she was unaware that her check had been returned or that her account had been sent to Defendant. Id.

Ms. Dibb contacted Defendant, and was told that she owed $98.77 (which included the dishonored check and interest) and additional fees because the matter had been sent to their attorneys. Id. She asserts that Defendant refused to give her contact information for those attorneys. Id., at 3. Ms. Dibb states that she called Defendant multiple times that day, trying to speak with their attorneys, all along disputing that she owed anything over the $98.77. Id. at 3-4. She states that during one of those calls, she told them that she would pay the $98.77, “stressing [her] contention that this was [her] debt in full.” Id., at 4. She paid the $98.77, and states that she told Defendant to send her an email receipt, and Defendant did so. Id. Ms. Dibb returned to DOL and renewed her car tabs. Id.

On October 24, 2014, Ms. Dibb was served with a complaint filed against her by Defendant on May 29, 2013 in King County District Court in Issaquah Washington, case number 133-15386. Id. She states she “was shocked” to receive the complaint because she “was under the assumption during all this time that [her] message had been conveyed to the legal counsel and that they realized that there was nothing to collect.” Id. Ms. Dibbs contends that after she paid Defendant the $98.77 in July 2013, she was not contacted either by mail or email until service of the King County District Court complaint. Id.

According to the Complaint in this case, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment in the King County District Court case and maintained that it was owed $710.93. Dkt. 1, at 3-4. In that motion, Defendant asserted that it sent Ms. Dibb a Notice of Dishonor of Check letter (“NOD”), dated September 25, 2012. Dkt. 1, at 4. Ms. Dibb asserts that she did not receive the NOD until the Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment in state court. Dkt. 25, at 4.

According to the Complaint, the NOD read:

You are also CAUTIONED that law enforcement agencies may be provided with a copy of this notice of dishonor and the check drawn by you for the possibility of proceeding with criminal charges if you do not pay the amount of this check within thirty days after the date this letter is postmarked.

Dkt. 1. According to the Complaint, the NOD’s envelope had a clear “glassine window” address block in the lower left hand corner. Id. Ms. Dibb’s account number with Defendant was visible. Id.

Ms. Dibb makes claims on behalf of herself and others similarly situated under the FDCPA based on the NOD’s statements regarding criminal prosecution and the NOD’s envelope’s design which permitted her account number to be visible. Dkt. 1. Ms. Dibb alleges that the FDCPA violations constitute per se violations of the CPA, and so asserts that claim on behalf of herself and the class as well. Id. No motion for certification of the class has been filed.

On December 16, 2014, Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims (Dkt. 9) was denied because Plaintiff’s debts are covered under the FDCPA and Plaintiff ...


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