United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Thomas J. Lyons, Jr., Esq. and Consumer Justice Center, P.A., 367 Commerce Court, Vadnais Heights, MN 55127, counsel for plaintiff.
William H. Henney, Esq. 5101 Thimsen Avenue, Suite 200, Minnetonka, MN 55345; Stephen P. Watters, Esq. and Watters Law Office, 5101 Thimsen Avenue, Suite 200, Minnetonka, MN 55345, counsel for defendants.
DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.
This matter is before the court upon the cross-motions for partial summary judgment by plaintiff Kimberly Golden, defendants John W. Prosser and Prosser Holdings, LLC, d/b/a A.C. Financial (collectively, A.C. Financial), defendant Automotive Restyling Concepts, Inc. d/b/a Automotive Concepts (ARC) and William H. Henney Law Office (Henney). Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court denies Golden's motion and grants defendants' motions.
This debt-collection dispute arises out of Golden's purchase of a used 2006 BMW from ARC in September 2014. Golden and ARC executed a Simple Motor Vehicle Contract and Security Agreement (Agreement) in connection with the sale. Spinler Aff. Ex. 1. The Agreement indicates that Golden made a $2, 000 down payment on the car and that she agreed to finance the remaining $14, 199. Id. at 1. ARC immediately assigned its rights under the Agreement - including the right to "all moneys due and to become due" - to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase). Id. at 3. Golden and ARC simultaneously executed a Check Pledge and Note (Note) stating that if Golden's $2, 000 down payment check is not negotiable, Golden will make immediate payment in full. Id . Ex. 3. The Note further states that ARC has a security interest in the car and that if payment is not made, ARC may "immediately repossess the car... without notice." Id . Golden's title application, however, states that Chase is the only secured party with respect to the car. Id . Ex. 2, at 1.
The parties dispute whether Golden has made the $2, 000 down payment. Golden asserts that she made payment on the day she purchased the car and defendants assert that Golden orally agreed to make the payment soon thereafter. On February 4, 2013, Henney sent a letter to Golden on behalf of A.C. Financial "regarding a $2, 000.00 balance due to A.C. Financial for [her] recent purchase of a 2006 BMW." Lyons Decl. Ex. 5, ECF. No. 31-5. Henney identifies himself as a "debt collector" and states that the letter is an "attempt to collect a debt." Id . The letter further advises Golden that she has 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt and that if she fails to do so, A.C. Financial will assume the debt to be valid. Id . Golden did not respond to the letter.
Then, on March 6, 2013, Prosser - chief manager of A.C. Financial and president of ARC - sent a letter to Golden on behalf of A.C. Financial stating as follows:
This letter is a formal notification that you are in default of your obligations to make payment on your loan, account #XXXXXC. This account currently holds the sum of $2, 000.00 payable by October 14, 2012. This amount has been overdue since October 15, 2012 and you have ignored multiple requests to make payment. Unless the full amount is received immediately upon receipt of this letter, we have no choice but to begin the repossession process to secure our financial interest in the vehicle. We have given you more than adequate notice on this issue and we have no other choice. Please act accordingly[.]
Id. Ex. 6. The letter does not identify Prosser or A.C. Financial as a debt collector, nor does it contain a recitation of debtor rights.
On December 17, 2013, Golden filed this action, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Minn. Stat. § 53C.08 and Minn. Stat. § 336.9-609. The parties now crossmove for summary judgment.
I. Standard of Review
"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if ...