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Ojogwu v. Rodenburg Law Firm

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 19, 2019

BENJAMIN OJOGWU, Plaintiff,
v.
RODENBURG LAW FIRM and PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, LLC, Defendants.

          Blake R. Bauer, FIELDS LAW FIRM, for plaintiff.

          Amanda Marie Lee and Clifton G. Rodenburg, RODENBURG LAW FIRM, for defendant Rodenburg Law Firm.

          M. Annie Santos and Heather K. Meyers, HINSHAW & CULBERTSON LLP, for defendant Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC.

          ORDER

          Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Benjamin Ojogwu brings this action against defendants Rodenburg Law Firm (“Rodenburg”) and Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (“Portfolio”) under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. Defendants move to dismiss. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ojogwu allegedly owes a debt to CitiBank. Compl. ¶ 11. CitiBank transferred the alleged debt to Portfolio, which retained Rodenburg to collect the debt. Compl. ¶¶ 13, 17. Rodenburg brought a collection action against Ojogwu in Hennepin County District Court. In March 2017, Rodenburg notified Ojogwu that it intended to apply for a default judgment. Compl. ¶ 17 & Ex. 1. In June 2017, Ojogwu retained attorney Blake Bauer, who sent a letter of representation to Rodenburg directing that all future correspondence to Ojogwu be sent through Bauer. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19 & Ex. 2. Rodenburg acknowledged receiving the letter. Compl. ¶ 20 & Ex. 3.

         About a month later, Rodenburg sent legal correspondence directly to Ojogwu. Compl. ¶ 21 & Ex. 4. In response, Bauer drafted and forwarded a proposed complaint alleging that Rodenburg had violated the FDCPA when it directly contacted Ojogwu. Compl. ¶¶ 22-23 & Ex. 5. The parties resolved that dispute. Compl. ¶ 24.

         About a year later, on July 17, 2018, Rodenburg again sent legal correspondence directly to Ojogwu. This time, the correspondence consisted of a garnishment summons, a non-earnings disclosure worksheet, an exemption notice, and an accompanying cover letter. Compl. ¶ 25 & Ex. 6. On the same date, Rodenburg sent Bauer an affidavit of increased costs and a certificate of service relating to the case against Ojogwu. Compl. ¶ 27 & Ex. 7. In response, Ojogwu filed this action against Rodenburg and Portfolio, alleging that they violated the FDCPA when they sent the garnishment summons and associated paperwork directly to Ojogwu.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Aten v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir. 2008). Although the factual allegations need not be detailed, they must be sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         B. 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(2)

         Ojogwu alleges that defendants violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(2) when they sent the garnishment summons and associated paperwork directly to him instead of to his attorney. Section 1692c(a)(2) provides in relevant part:

Without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer ...

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