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Lopez v. 4M Collections LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

May 24, 2018

HECTOR LOPEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
4M COLLECTIONS, LLC D/B/A DISCOVERY FINANCIAL SERVICES, a Washington limited liability company, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          STANLEY A. BASTIAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6), ECF No. 5. Defendant requests the Court dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint because it fails to state an actionable claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act's (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1962, et seq., prohibition against false or misleading representations. Id. § 1692e. The Court held a hearing on May 18, 2018 in Spokane, Washington. Kirk Miller appeared on behalf of Plaintiff, and Marc Rosenberg appeared on behalf of Defendant. The Court took the motion under advisement. After careful consideration of the parties' briefings and presentation to the Court, Defendant's motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On or about February 3, 2018, 4M Collections, LLC d/b/a/ Discovery Financial Services (“Defendant”) served a Whitman County District Court summons and complaint (the “Summons”) upon Plaintiff Hector Lopez. The summons[1] provided, in part:

In order to defend against this lawsuit, you must respond to the complaint by stating your defense in writing, and serve a copy upon the court and the person signing this Summons, within twenty (20) days after the service of this Summons, excluding the day of service, or a Default Judgment may be entered against you without notice. A Default Judgment is one where plaintiff is entitled to what it asks for because you have not responded. If you serve a Notice of Appearance on the undersigned person, you are entitled to notice before a Default Judgment may be entered.

ECF No. 8, Ex. 1. The Summons was related to an alleged debt owed by Plaintiff; a debt Defendant was attempting to collect.

         On March 2, 2018, Plaintiff initiated this action against Defendant pursuant to the FDCPA. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated the FDCPA's prohibition against false or misleading representations in connection with the collection of a debt. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. Specifically, Plaintiff claims the language in the Summons constitutes a “false, deceptive, or misleading representation” because is states Plaintiff is required to both serve a copy of his response upon Defendant and file the same upon the court, “or Default Judgment may be entered against [him] without notice.” ECF No. 8, Ex. 1. Plaintiff claims this statement is contrary to Washington law and the Washington Civil Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (“CRLJ”), which do not require a person serve his response to a lawsuit upon the court in order to avoid a no-notice default judgment.

         On March 21, 2018, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 5.

         STANDARD

         On a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint “should not be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that [the] plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Hydranautics v. FilmTec Corp., 70 F.3d 533, 535-36 (9th Cir. 1995).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that each claim in a pleading be supported by “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” To satisfy this requirement, a complaint must contain sufficient factual content “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Landers v. Quality Commc'ns, Inc., 771 F.3d 638, 641 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim for relief is plausible on its face “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). In evaluating whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, courts rely on “judicial experience and common sense” to determine whether the factual allegations, which are assumed to be true, “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 679.

         DISCUSSION

         The FDCPA was created to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection practices. 15 U.S.C. § 1692. The statute 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. Despite this broad language, however, not all false statements are actionable. To constitute a violation of the FDCPA, the alleged false statement must also be “material.” Donohue v. Quick Collect, Inc., 592 F.3d 1027, 1033 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a plausible claim under the FDCPA because the language in the Summons does not constitute a “false, deceptive, or misleading representation.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. Plaintiff argues the following language in the Summons is a false statement of Washington law and the applicable court rules: “In order to defend against this lawsuit, you must respond to the complaint by stating your defense in writing, and serve a copy upon the court and the person signing this Summons, within twenty (20) days after the service of this Summons, excluding the day of service, or a Default Judgment may be entered against you without notice.” ECF No. 8, Ex. 1. Plaintiff ...


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