United States District Court, E.D. Washington
CRYSTAL TROUT, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
LAKE BREEZE INCORPORATED, an Idaho corporation, and CYD ROSSI, an individual, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT
Stanley A. Bastian, United States District Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Entry of Default Judgment,
ECF No. 18. Plaintiff requests the Court grant default
judgment against Defendant Lake Breeze Incorporated
(“Lake Breeze”), and requests a monetary award
for damages, including costs and reasonable attorneys'
fees. The motion was heard without oral argument. For the
reasons set-forth below, the Court denies Plaintiffs motion.
5, 2015, Plaintiff Crystal Trout entered into a lease
agreement for an apartment at the Crestwood Park apartment
complex located in Airway Heights, Washington. Lake Breeze
managed the apartment complex, while its employee, Defendant
Cyd Rossi, acted as the on-site manager.
year later, Plaintiff received a written notice alleging she
owed Defendants $760.00 in outstanding rent, late fees, and
“dailies.” The notice warned Plaintiff that
failure to pay could result in eviction status, additional
fines, and a negative report to credit reporting agencies.
The notice appeared to be sent by an organization titled the
“Landlord Protection Agency, Inc.”
soon became aware that the notice was in fact sent by
Defendant Cyd Rossi in an attempt to collect a debt for Lake
Breeze under the guise of a third-party collection agency.
This caused Plaintiff to file the instant action challenging
Defendants' deceptive antics pursuant to the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692, et seq. Lake Breeze did not respond or
otherwise defend against Plaintiffs Complaint. Accordingly,
the Clerk of Court entered an Order of Default against Lake
Breeze. ECF No. 17. Plaintiff now seeks default judgment
against Lake Breeze, and requests the Court award damages,
including costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.
entry of default judgment is “an extreme
measure.” Cmty. Dental Servs. v. Tani, 282
F.3d 1164, 1170 (9th Cir. 2002). “As a general rule,
default judgments are disfavored; cases should be decided
upon their merits whenever reasonably possible.”
Westchester Fire Ins. Co. v. Mendez, 585 F.3d 1183,
1189 (9th Cir. 2009). To determine whether default judgment
is appropriate, a court should consider the following
factors: “(1) the possibility of prejudice to the
plaintiff; (2) the merits of the plaintiffs substantive
claims; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of
money at stake in the action; (5) the possibility of a
dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the default
was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy
underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring
decisions on the merits.” Eitel v. McCool, 782
F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). All well-pleaded
allegations in a complaint are deemed admitted on a motion
for default judgment. In re Visioneering Const. v. US.
Fidelity & Guaranty, 661 F.2d 119, 124 (9th Cir.
Court declines to enter default judgment against Lake Breeze
because Plaintiffs FDCPA claim fails as a matter of law. The
FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from using “any false,
deceptive, or misleading representation or means in
connection with the collection of any debt.” 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692e. To state a claim under the FDCPA, a plaintiff
must allege: (1) plaintiff is a “consumer” within
the meaning of 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(3); (2) defendant is a
“debt collector” within the meaning of 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692a(6); and (3) defendant “committed some act
or omissions in violation of the FDCPA, ” 15 U.S.C.
§§ 1692a-1692o. Beck v. U.S. Bank Nat'l
Ass'n , No. C17-0882JLR, 2017 WL 6389330, at *9
(W.D. Wash. Dec. 14, 2017).
purposes of a claim based on 15 U.S.C. § 1692e, the
FDCPA defines a “debt collector” as “any
person who . . . [engages] in any business the principal
purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who
regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or
indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or
due another.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6) (emphasis
added). “[B]y its plain terms this language seems to
focus our attention on third party collection agents working
for a debt owner-not on a debt owner seeking to collect debts
for itself.” Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc.,
___ U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct. 1718, 1721-22 (2017).
case, Lake Breeze does not fall within the definition of a
“debt collector.” Plaintiffs Complaint alleges
Lake Breeze and its employee used a fictitious agency in an
attempt to collect a debt for itself. ECF No. 1 at ¶
5.11. The Complaint makes clear the “Landlord
Protection Agency, Inc.” is not involved in the
collection of debts allegedly owed to Lake Breeze. What we
are left with is Lake Breeze, a debt owner, attempting to
collect a debt owed to it. Thus, Plaintiffs Complaint fails
to state a FDCPA claim because, as a matter of law, Lake
Breeze is not a “debt collector” within the
meaning of the statute.
foregoing reasons, ...