United States District Court, E.D. Washington
MYRON HARGREAVES, CORTNEY HALVORSEN, and BONNIE FREEMAN, Plaintiffs,
ASSOCIATED CREDIT SERVICE, INC., a Washington Corporation, and PAUL J. WASSON AND MONICA WASSON, individually and the marital community, Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR
FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM OR ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR PARTIAL
O. RICE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim or Alternatively Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 56. This matter was heard with oral
argument on October 19, 2017. The Court has reviewed the
motion, the record and files herein, and is fully informed.
For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 56) is
case concerns a claim against Defendant Associated Credit
Services, Inc. (Associated), a Washington debt collection
agency. ECF No. 56 at 3. On April 1, 2016, Plaintiff Myron
Hargreaves filed a putative class action, asserting
violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA),
15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.; the Washington
Consumer Protection Act (WCPA), RCW § 19.86.010 et
seq.; and the Washington Collection Agency Act (WCAA),
RCW § 19.16.100. See ECF No. 1. On November 16,
2016, Plaintiff Hargreaves, along with Cortney Halvorsen and
Bonnie Freeman, filed a First Amended Complaint adding
Defendants Paul J. Wasson and Monica Wasson (Wasson
Defendants). ECF No. 14.
instant motion, Defendants seek an order dismissing
Plaintiffs' “reason to believe claims, ”
which refer to Defendants allegedly, falsely certifying that
they had reason to believe the assets they were attempting to
garnish were not exempt. ECF Nos. 56 at 2; 14 at ¶ 7.13.
Alternatively, Defendants request partial summary judgment
for failure to state a claim under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 8(a) and 12(b)(6) and that there are no disputed
questions of fact that preclude a finding that Mr. Wasson
lawfully executed each application for writ of garnishment.
ECF No. 56 at 2. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
grants Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as
there are no disputed material questions of fact.
allege that judgment creditor, Associated, and its attorney,
Mr. Wasson, misrepresented information in writs of
garnishment, which allowed them to unlawfully garnish
Plaintiffs' exempt property in violation of the FDCPA.
ECF No. 14 at ¶ 7.13. Plaintiffs contend that Associated
and Mr. Wasson's conduct also violates the WCPA and the
WCAA. Id. at 18.
available funds were garnished from Plaintiffs'
respective bank accounts to repay consumer debts, pursuant to
a writ of garnishment filed by Defendant Associated. ECF No.
14 at ¶¶ 4-6. Mr. Wasson executed declarations on
behalf of Associated in support of each writ application and
asserted that Associated had “reason to believe”
that Plaintiffs' property “was not exempt under
Washington or federal law.” Id. at ¶ 1.
Plaintiffs contend that Mr. Wasson is the equivalent of a
“robo-signer” who signs numerous writ
applications without any reason to believe the veracity of
the statements he makes. Id. at ¶¶ 4.27,
7.9, 7.11. Defendants allegedly sent notices of exemption
rights to Plaintiffs post-garnishment that contained
materially false and misleading information concerning
Plaintiffs' respective cash exemption
rights. Id. at ¶¶ 4.30, 5.12,
6.19-6.20. After Plaintiffs Cortney Halvorsen and Bonnie
Freeman confronted Defendants in response to the erroneous
exemption claim notice, Defendants released their respective
writs of garnishment and paid back some or all of the
garnished money. Id. at ¶¶ 5.14, 6.22.
recitation of Washington State's garnishment law and
procedures is necessary to understand the intricacies of this
case. The Washington Legislature declared its intent with
respect to garnishment:
The legislature recognizes that a garnishee has no
responsibility for the situation leading to the garnishment
of a debtor's wages, funds, or other property, but that
the garnishment process is necessary for the enforcement of
obligations debtors otherwise fail to honor, and that
garnishment procedures benefit the state and the business
community as creditors. The state should take whatever
measures that are reasonably necessary to reduce or offset
the administrative burden on the garnishee consistent with
the goal of effectively enforcing the debtor's unpaid
RCW 6.27.005. Judgment creditors who have judgments that are
wholly or partially unsatisfied are entitled to seek writs of
garnishment. See RCW 6.27.020. Application for a
writ of garnishment must be by affidavit stating, inter alia,
that a judgment is unsatisfied, the amount due, and that
“plaintiff has reason to believe, and does believe that
the garnishee, . . . is indebted to the defendant in amounts
exceeding those exempted from garnishment by any state or
federal law. . .” RCW 6.27.060 (quoting third necessary
fact). In the context of the garnishment statutes and this
case, plaintiff is the creditor, defendant is the debtor and
the garnishee is the bank holding funds belonging to the
defendant. Upon proper application, the clerk of the court
issues a writ of garnishment to the judgment creditor for
service upon the garnishee. See RCW 6.27.070.
writ of garnishment shall set forth the amount that the
garnishee is required to hold pending the garnishment
proceeding. See RCW 6.27.090. This amount is
determined by adding together the amounts specifically
allowed by statute, which includes the amount of the
unsatisfied judgment, interest, attorney fees and taxable
costs. Id. Nowhere does the statute require the
creditor or the Court to deduct any anticipated exempt
property that may later be claimed.
service of the writ and notice, a defendant debtor
“may claim exemptions from garnishment in the
manner specified by the statute that creates the exemption. .
.” RCW 6.27.160(1) (emphasis added). A creditor
may object to the claimed exemption, in which case
the court must hold a hearing where the debtor “bears
the burden of proving any claimed exemption”. RCW
6.27.160(2). The creditor is then entitled to a judgment
against the garnishee for any amount exceeding the proven
exemption, or if no exemption is claimed, the amount the
garnishee holds up to the amount due on the unsatisfied ...