United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Kathleen Toepper, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
Law Office of Richard Snyder, Bruce Jackman, Richard W. Snyder, and Ben Bridge Jeweler, Inc., Defendants.
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kathleen Toepper (“Toepper”) filed this putative
class action alleging that Defendant Law Office of Richard
Snyder (“LORS”), Defendant Bruce Jackman
(“Jackman”), and Defendant Richard W. Snyder
(“Snyder”), (collectively, “LORS
Defendants”), violated the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the automatic stay of
a bankruptcy proceeding. Am. Compl., ECF No. 19. Toepper also
asserts claims for automatic stay violations against
Defendant Ben Bridge Jeweler, Inc. (“Ben
Bridge”). Id. at 24-25.
Defendants move to dismiss all claims against them under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for “failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” ECF
Nos. 24, 26. Toepper opposes the motion. ECF No. 34. As set
forth below, the Court grants the motion and dismisses this
action as against LORS Defendants.
September 14, 2016, Toepper incurred a debt with Ben Bridge
when she purchased a gold chain and gold earrings. ECF No. 19
at 3. On December 6, 2016, Toepper filed for Chapter 7
bankruptcy in the District of Minnesota. Id. Ben
Bridge retained LORS, who then sent three letters concerning
the debt to Toepper's bankruptcy attorney. Id. at
3-6. These three letters are the basis for all the claims
against LORS Defendants.
on January 9, 2017, Jackman, a paralegal for LORS, sent a
letter to Toepper's bankruptcy attorney (“the
January 9 Letter”). The letter reads, in relevant part:
This office represents Ben Bridges Jewelers and has been
retained to recover funds procured by your client through
fraud. Our initial review of the file indicates that our
client has sufficient grounds to seek a determination that
its debt on the above-referenced account in the amount of
$5814.28 be adjudged nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. Section
If your client wishes to discuss a settlement of this matter
prior to our filing an adversary complaint, please contact
this office within 7 days of the date of this letter. If we
do not receive a response, our office will proceed with
preparing the adversary complaint to determine this debt to
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
27-1 at 1; ECF No. 19 at 3-4. The bottom of the letter
states: “In the event that the FDCPA is deemed to apply
to bankruptcy proceedings, this letter is an attempt to
collect a debt and any information obtained as a result will
be used for that purpose.” Id.
January 23, 2017, Jackman sent a second letter to
Toepper's bankruptcy attorney (“the January 23
Letter”). This letter reads, in relevant part:
Our client's records indicate that on or before
09/14/2016, your client purchased 18K GOLD TOSCANO CHAIN, 18K
GOLD EARRINGS (“Secured Property”) from BEN
BRIDGE JEWELERS with a fair market value of $6, 788.36, and
either admitted transferring the Secured Property
pre-petition or failed to conclusively disclose its location
and/or disposition as required in the bankruptcy schedules.
As of the date your client's bankruptcy case was filed,
the total amount owed on this account was $5, 814.28, and our
office has determined that sufficient cause may exist to file
a complaint to Determine Nondischargeability of Debt under 11
U.S.C. § 523(a)(6).
Before we proceed with preparing this complaint, we are
offering your client an opportunity to settle this matter by
signing a reaffirmation agreement. As an added incentive for
your client to settle without litigation, we are offering a
discount of $1, 164.28 off of the principal amount owed on
this debt, as reflected in the attached reaffirmation
Please discuss this reaffirmation offer with your client.
You must respond to this office within 7 days to avoid
further action. Thank you for your prompt attention to
27-1 at 2 (emphasis in original); ECF No. 19 at 4-5 (emphasis
in original). The bottom of the letter states: “In the
event that the FDCPA is deemed to apply to bankruptcy
proceedings, this letter is an attempt to collect a debt and
any information obtained as a result will be used for that
purpose.” Id. As stated, Jackman attached a
proposed reaffirmation agreement.
on February 15, 2017, Snyder, a lawyer for LORS, sent a
letter to Toepper's bankruptcy attorney (“the
February 15 Letter”). The letter reads, in relevant
Based on a recent review of our legal file, the issues
pertaining to the purchases from Ben Bridge Jewelers on the
account with Ben Bridge Jewelers included in the
above-referenced bankruptcy proceeding remain unresolved. You
have left our office with no alternative but to escalate this
matter with our client for further instructions.
We have prepared the attached complaint which we may be
forced to file through local counsel if we do not hear from
you. Please contact our office within seven (7) days to
prevent further action.
Our client had hoped this matter could be resolved without
litigation, but the attached pleading should convince you
that they are prepared and willing to take the next step.
27-1 at 13 (emphasis in original); ECF No. 19 at 5-6
(emphasis in original). As stated in the letter, Snyder
provided a complaint to Toepper's bankruptcy attorney.
March 7, 2017, Toepper's debts were discharged in
bankruptcy. ECF No. 19 at 6. On September 8, 2017, Toepper
filed this putative class action against LORS Defendants and
Ben Bridge. ECF No. 1. In her Amended Complaint, she alleges
that the above letters violated the FDCPA and the automatic
stay provision of the United States Bankruptcy Code. ECF No.
19. Toepper has not yet moved for class certification. LORS
Defendants now move under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the claims
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A complaint “does not need
detailed factual allegations, ” but it must contain
“more than labels and conclusions.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Iqb ...