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Hadler v. Alltran Financial, L.P

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 5, 2019

Mitchell R. Hadler, Plaintiff,
v.
Alltran Financial, L.P., Defendant.

          May C. Yang, Esq., Law Office of Mitchell R. Hadler, counsel for Plaintiff.

          Adam C. Ballinger, Esq., and Jenna Kathryn Johnson, Esq., Ballard Spahr LLP, counsel for Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BECKY R. THORSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Mitchell Hadler filed a case against Defendant Alltran Financial, L.P. (“Alltran”) for damages based on alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”). This matter is before the Court on Defendant Alltran Financial, L.P.'s (“Alltran”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 19), for failure to state a claim. The motion has been referred to this Court for a Report and Recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and D. Minn. LR 72.1. (Doc. No. 23.) On January 18, 2019, this Court held a hearing on the matter in which counsel appeared on behalf of each party. (See Doc. No. 30.) For the reasons stated below, this Court recommends that Defendant's motion be granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiff be allowed to proceed with his FDCPA claims based on 15 U.S.C. § 1692d.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Alltran is a “sophisticated debt collection agency” that uses an “instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails” to collect “debts owed or asserted to be owed[.]” (Doc. No. 15, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 12.) According to Plaintiff, on or around September 5, 2017, Alltran “directed that Plaintiff be contacted in order to collect a debt, ” and “every time calling Mitchell R. Hadler at 651.222.4260 to collect a consumer debt.” (Id. ¶ 13; see also Doc. No. 15-1, Plaintiff's complaint letters attached to the Am. Compl.) Plaintiff alleges upon information and belief that “the name of Whelma Avila was mentioned.” (Id.) Plaintiff does not allege how many calls were made but alleges that “Plaintiff will establish the exact number of telephone calls which is to be determined after discovery in this case[.]” (Id. ¶ 13.01) Plaintiff does allege, however, that “each time the voice answering machine at the telephone called by Defendant announced that the phone belonged to Mitchell Hadler and not Whelma Avila.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he “has no connection with Defendant at any time whatsoever, other than having been contacted by Defendant by telephone in Defendant's attempts to collect an alleged debt[.]” (Doc. No. 15, Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff also alleges that “the sole purpose of Defendant's contacts with Plaintiff was to collect an alleged debt, ” (id.; see also Id. ¶ 13.01), and that “Defendant's repeated calling was intended to, and had the effect of harassing Plaintiff.” (Id. ¶ 13.01.)

         According to Plaintiff, at some point, he requested that Defendant tell him how his phone number was connected to a person named Whelma Avila, and Defendant “refused to disclose exactly how and why Defendant obtained Plaintiff's telephone number.” (Id. ¶ 13.02.) Plaintiff claims he “learned that the calling Defendant was a collection agency, ” which led him to “believe that perhaps his identity had been stolen, ” adding “stress and concern that substantial money was wrongfully obtained in Plaintiff's name by using false information about Plaintiff.” (Id. ¶ 13.03.) Plaintiff therefore sent Defendant complaints on September 11 and September 25, 2017, “seeking information about exactly how the Defendant obtained Plaintiff's name, ” to which Defendant did not respond.[1] (Id. ¶¶ 13.04, 13.07.)

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint against Defendant relating to these phone calls on October 4, 2018. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff thereafter filed an Amended Complaint on November 1, 2018, which is the operative complaint in this matter. (Doc. No. 15, Am. Compl.) In his Amended Complaint, he brought five claims against Defendant for violations of the FDCPA: (1) claim one for engaging in harassing and abusive conduct in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d; (2) claim two for placing calls with intent to annoy, abuse, and harass in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(5); (3) claim three for failure to advise Plaintiff of the debt by written notice in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692g; (4) claim four for failure to provide meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(6); and (5) claim five for failure to disclose that the call was from a debt collector in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(11). (See generally Doc. No. 15, Am. Compl.)

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 500 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This standard does not require the inclusion of “detailed factual allegations” in a pleading, but the complaint must contain facts with enough specificity “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. This standard “calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the claim].” Id. at 556. In applying this standard, the Court must assume the facts in the complaint to be true and must construe all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Gomez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 676 F.3d 655, 660 (8th Cir. 2012). But the Court need not give effect to those allegations that simply assert legal conclusions. McAdams v. McCord, 584 F.3d 1111, 1113 (8th Cir. 2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         B. ...


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