United States District Court, D. Minnesota
B. Schwiebert, Esq. and DBS Law LLC, counsel for plaintiff.
Derrick N. Weber, Esq., Stephanie Shawn Lamphere, Esq. and
Messerli & Kramer, P.A., counsel for defendants.
S. Doty, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the court upon the motion for judgment on
the pleadings by defendants Callidus Portfolio Management
Inc. and Messerli & Kramer, P.A. Based on a review of the
file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the court grants the motion in part.
debt-collection dispute arises out of defendants'
attempts, through a state court action, to collect on credit
card debt allegedly owed by plaintiff Jason Heroux. After
Heroux defaulted on the debt, it was charged off and sold to
Callidus. Callidus retained Messerli to collect the debt.
Compl. ¶ 8. On April 12, 2016, defendants served Heroux
with a state court complaint seeking $1, 665.11 plus accrued
and continuing interest. Answer Ex. A at 4. Defendants did
not file the complaint at that time. Heroux answered the
complaint on March 16, 2017, denying any liability and
asserting various affirmative defenses. Id. at
12-13. Defendants served Heroux with their first set of
“interlocking discovery” on April 4, 2017, and
filed the case in Hennepin County the following day.
Id. at 6, 17, 20-29. Defendants then moved for
summary judgment. Heroux did not respond to the discovery,
oppose the summary judgment motion, or appear for the summary
judgment hearing. Id. at 56-57. The court determined
that, based on the evidence and Heroux's failure to
respond, defendants were entitled to judgment and an award of
$2, 881.57. Id. at 56-59.
November 16, 2017, Heroux commenced this suit against
defendants alleging that the state-court action violated the
Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §
1692, et seq, in several respects. Heroux specifically
alleges that defendants violated the FDCPA by (1) serving
misleading discovery; (2) seeking false admissions through
discovery; (3) misrepresenting the identity of the creditors;
(4) impermissibly seeking to collect post charge-off
interest; and (5) seeking to collect affidavit costs.
Defendants now move to dismiss arguing that the court lacks
jurisdiction and, alternatively, that the complaint fails to
state a claim.
Standard of Review
same standard of review applies to motions under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c) and 12(b)(6). Ashley Cty.,
Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir. 2009).
Thus, to survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff [has pleaded] 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).
Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual
allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the
speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “[L]abels and conclusions or
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are not sufficient to state a claim.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
argue that the court is precluded from hearing this matter
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because Heroux is
effectively appealing the state court's judgment. The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine is implicated when a federal
action is commenced by “state-court losers complaining
of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before
the district court proceedings commenced and inviting
district court review and rejection of those
judgments.” Exxon Mobile Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). Under the
doctrine, federal district courts are without jurisdiction to
review state-court judgments or to address federal claims
with allegations that are inextricably intertwined with a
state-court decision. Prince v. Ark. Bd. of Exam'rs
in Psychology, 380 F.3d 337, 340 (8th Cir. 2004).
However, if a federal plaintiff presents an independent
claim, even “one that denies a legal conclusion that a
state court has reached in a case to which he was a party,
then there is jurisdiction and state law determines whether
the defendant prevails under principles of preclusion.”
Exxon, 544 U.S. at 293 (citation omitted); see
also Hageman v. Barton, 817 F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir.
2016) (“The doctrine is limited in scope and does not
bar jurisdiction over actions alleging independent claims
arising from conduct in underlying state
Rooker-Feldman doctrine “bars both
straightforward and indirect attempts by a plaintiff to
‘undermine state court decisions.'”
Prince, 380 F.3d at 340 (quoting Lemonds v. St.
Louis Cty., 222 F.3d 488, 492 (8th Cir. 2000)). A claim
is inextricably intertwined under Rooker-Feldman if
it “succeeds only to the extent that the state court
wrongly decided the issues before it [or] if the relief
requested ... would effectively reverse the state court
decision or void its ruling.” Fielder v. Credit
Acceptance Corp., 188 F.3d 1031, 1035 (8th Cir. 1999)
(citation omitted). The fact that a judgment was entered on a
party's default does not alter the applicability of the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine and renders the court
without jurisdiction over defenses to the state ...