United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Asset Acceptance,
LLC's Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), Dkt.
#18. Plaintiff Terry Steiner opposes Defendant's Motion
in entirety. Dkt. #24. The Court finds oral argument
unnecessary to resolve the underlying issues. For the reasons
stated below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss with prejudice.
brings this action against Defendant for violation of the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et
seq. (“FDCPA”), and the Washington Consumer
Protection Act (“CPA”), RCW 19.16.
18, 2004, Defendant obtained a judgment against
Plaintiff's brother, Mr. David Steiner, in Whatcom
Superior Court, and duly recorded the judgment on June 30,
2004. Dkt. #1 at ¶¶ 15-16. The judgment totaled $6,
802.76 with an interest rate of twelve percent. Dkt. #1-1 at
1. Nearly ten years later, on April 11, 2014, Defendant
obtained an order granting a petition for renewal of judgment
for the total amount of $13, 529.09. Dkt. #1-2 at 2.
Defendant duly recorded the order on May 22, 2015. Dkt. #1 at
¶ 16. On January 2, 2018, Mr. Steiner passed away
intestate and Plaintiff Terry Steiner was appointed
administrator of his estate. Id. at ¶¶
about September 4, 2018, Plaintiff sold Mr. Steiner's
property. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. Because of
Defendant's judgment lien against Mr. Steiner's
estate, the Chicago Title Company of Washington
(“Chicago Title”) withheld $28, 000 of the
proceeds from the sale of Mr. Steiner's former home. Dkt.
#1-7 at 1. Plaintiff claims that she offered Defendant $5,
000 to release the lien on Mr. Steiner's estate. In
response, Defendant sent Plaintiff a letter dated September
21, 2018 stating that a higher dollar amount was required to
release the lien and that it needed to receive the funds by
October 18, 2018 to begin the release process. Dkt. #1-8.
Defendant rejected Plaintiff's offer to pay $5, 000 for
release of the lien, Plaintiff's counsel provided a
letter to Defendant stating that the judgment could not be
lawfully executed against the proceeds from the sale of Mr.
Steiner's former home. Dkt. #1-9. Plaintiff's counsel
continued to request release of the lien on the basis that
because of Washington's homestead laws, Defendant never
possessed a judgment lien on Mr. Steiner's property.
See Dkt. #1 at ¶¶ 22-31. On February 25,
2019, after unsuccessful attempts by Plaintiff's counsel
to obtain release of the lien, Plaintiff filed this action in
the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Washington. Plaintiff claims that by attempting to collect on
its judgment through the proceeds from the sale of Mr.
Steiner's home, Defendant violated both the FDCPA and the
CPA. Dkt. #1 at 9-12.
29, 2019, Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint with prejudice under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the
basis that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim.
Legal Standard under Rule 12(b)(6)
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.
moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims under the FDCPA and
the CPA on several grounds: (1) As a matter of law, the
Washington homestead exemption does not apply to proceeds
from the sale of Mr. Steiner's estate; (2) even if the
exemption applied, the homestead was presumed abandoned and
can no longer claim the exemption; (3) Defendant has not
enforced the judgment, and third-party Chicago Title-not
Defendant-maintains control over the sale proceeds; (4)
Defendant has not engaged in any “collection
activity” as defined under the FDCPA or the CPA; and
(5) Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of
limitations for the FDCPA and the CPA. The Court finds that
as a matter of law, the homestead exemption does not apply to
proceeds from the sale of Mr. Steiner's estate. Because
Plaintiff's inability to claim Washington's homestead
exemption is a dispositive issue, it is unnecessary for the
Court to address the remaining four grounds for dismissal.
The Washington State ...