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Lackey v. Ray Klein Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 7, 2019





         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Ray Klein Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, for a more definite statement under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Dkt. #12. Plaintiff Jennifer Lackey opposes both motions. Dkt. #13. The Court finds oral argument unnecessary to resolve the underlying issues. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and DENIES Defendant's Motion for a More Definite Statement.


         Plaintiff brings this action against Defendant Ray Klein Inc., dba Professional Credit Service under several causes of action related to Defendant's efforts to collect an alleged debt from Ms. Lackey starting in August 2018. Dkt. #1-1. Defendant is a debt collector and collection agency operating in Washington state.

         In 2013, Defendant obtained a default judgment against Ms. Lackey in King County District Court on an account related to a medical bill of $2, 195.00 from Highline Medical Center. Dkt. #1-1, ¶5. Plaintiff claims that in November 2017, Defendant was sued in a class action case Roberson v. Ray Klein, et al., wherein parties reached a settlement requiring Defendant to remove all interest from any purchased Highline Medical Center accounts that accrued prior to the date of purchase. Id. at ¶¶7-8. Although Ms. Lackey claims she was not aware of the ongoing action and did not join the lawsuit, she contends that the settlement provision was to apply to non-class members such as herself, thereby releasing her from owing any pre-judgment interest on the 2013 default judgment. Id. at ¶10.

         Ms. Lackey claims that Defendant's collection efforts started August 16, 2018 when Defendant issued a writ of garnishment of her wages for an amount of $6, 585.67 based on the 2013 judgment. Id. at ¶12. This amount included the original judgment amount of $3, 816.10, which included pre-purchase and pre-judgment interest in addition to accumulated interest and other fees. Id. at ¶ ¶14-17. M s. Lackey claims that she was only notified of the writ of garnishment through her employer, and that this was the first time she was made aware of the judgment. When she called Defendant to clarify the situation, Ms. Lackey claims that Defendant told her the writ of garnishment was an “error” because Defendant was unsure of the balance of the judgment. Nevertheless, she received another collection letter from Defendant on November 16, 2018 demanding over $6, 300.00. Id. at ¶¶18-20. Again, Ms. Lackey contends that she immediately called Defendant who responded that it was “unsure” of the actual balance and refused to accept any money from her.

         After this phone call, Ms. Lackey claims that she sent a letter to Defendant seeking more information. In response, she received a letter from Defendant dated December 20, 2018 explaining that the wage garnishment was released and the balance due on her account was now $2, 195.00 in addition to interest and fees. Id. at ¶22. Ms. Lackey asserts that various parts of Defendant's letter, including its explanation of the release of wage garnishment, the undefined amount owed, and the vague threat of more fees if she failed to pay, were “false, misleading, and/or confusing” to her. Id. at ¶23. In a series of phone calls with Defendant, Ms. Lackey claims that Defendant denied sending the letter and that she continued to receive false, misleading and confusing information. Id. at ¶25. Finally, Plaintiff states that she received another letter from Defendant dated March 5, 2019 which referenced five separate “accounts” and demanded $5, 209.44 from Ms. Lackey. Id. at ¶¶ 28-32. The letter also made no reference to the 2013 judgment, despite the fact that the judgment was the alleged basis of Ms. Lackey's liability. Ms. Lackey also contends that the letter provided confusing line items for accrued interest and mis-identified various creditors. As a result of Defendant's collection attempts, Ms. Lackey claims she has suffered stress as well as monetary damages from trying to address Defendant's collection attempts and from interest accrued while Defendant refused to accept payment. Id. at ¶¶33-40.

         On March 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in King County Superior Court. Dkt. #1 at 2. Defendant removed the case to this Court on April 19, 2019. Id. Ms. Lackey brings claims against Defendant under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Washington Collection Agency Act, and the Washington Consumer Protection Act. She also seeks injunctive relief.


         A. Legal Standard under Rule 12(b)(6)

         In making a 12(b)(6) assessment, the court accepts all facts alleged in the complaint as true and makes all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Baker v. Riverside County Office of Educ., 584 F.3d 821, 824 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted). However, the court is not required to accept as true a “legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 678. This requirement is met when the plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint need not include detailed allegations, but it must have “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Absent facial plausibility, a plaintiff's claims must be dismissed. Id. at 570.

         B. Claims under Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims under Sections 1692d, 1692e and 1692f of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) on the basis that Plaintiff has failed to identify what facts support each claim and has failed to give Defendant notice of the allegations supporting each cause of action. Dkt. #4-6. The FDCPA was enacted to protect consumers from improper or abusive debt collection efforts. 15 U.S.C. § 1692. When analyzing violations of the FDCPA, a court applies the “least sophisticated debtor” standard to a plaintiff's claims. Wade ...

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