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Cox v. Richland Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 16, 2018

LINDA COX, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHLAND HOLDINGS, INC. d/b/a ACCOUNT CORP OF SOUTHERN NEVADA; PARKER AND EDWARDS, INC.; and LANGSDALE LAW FIRM, P.C. Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT LANGSDALE'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (ECF NOS. 24, 72)

          ANDREW P. GORDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Linda Cox sues defendants Richland Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Account Corp of Southern Nevada (Account Corp), Parker and Edwards, Inc. (P&E), and Langsdale Law Firm, P.C. for alleged actions arising from the attempted collection of a debt. Cox claims that all defendants are liable for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act (NDTPA), and for abuse of process under Nevada law.

         Langsdale moves to dismiss the claims against it. Because Cox does not allege any facts that give rise to violations of the FDCPA or any state law, I grant Langsdale's motion to dismiss with leave to amend.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         In June 2016, Account Corp retained P&E to file a state court collection action against Cox for a debt owed from a contract with Advanced Laparoscopic and General Surgery. ECF No. 1 at 2. Account Corp alleged that Cox became delinquent in December 2015, with an account balance of $816.82. Id. Account Corp further alleged that a “contractual collection fee” of $408.41 was added for a total of $1, 225.23. Id.

         On August 23, 2016, Langsdale filed a substitution of attorney and replaced P&E as Account Corp's counsel. Id. at 3. A few months later, Cox's attorney, Vernon Nelson, emailed Langsdale to inform the firm that Nelson was representing Cox, and requested a two-week extension to file an answer to Account Corp's complaint. Id. Nelson also requested a copy of any validation letter Langsdale may have sent to Cox, and various other documents. Id. at 4. On November 7, 2016, Langsdale emailed Nelson to inform him that Account Corp “made an economic/business decision to dismiss many of the cases that were previously filed with former counsel” and that a notice of dismissal had been filed in Cox's case.[2] Id. at 4.

         Cox filed this action in December 2016. As relevant here, [3] Cox alleges that the contractual collection fee was unlawfully added to her debt; Account Corp, P&E, and Langsdale “failed to provide Cox with a validation of debt letter in compliance with section 1692G (sic) of the FDCPA;” and Langsdale did not serve Cox with a copy of the substitution of attorney notice “in violation of the FDCPA.” Id. at 3. She alleges that all defendants abused process by commencing legal proceedings against her for “the ulterior purpose of collecting unlawful fees in violation of the FDCPA.” Id. at 6. Cox further alleges that all defendants violated the NDTPA by “engag[ing] in unfair or deceptive acts in the conduct of [their] commerce or trade through [their] unfair and deceptive debt collection and litigation activities . . . .” Id. Langsdale moves for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Cox failed to plead sufficient facts demonstrating that Langsdale's actions violated the FDCPA or the NDTPA, or constituted abuse of process. ECF No. 24.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is proper if, “taking all the allegations in the pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Milne ex rel. Coyne v. Stephen Slesinger, Inc., 430 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2005) (quotation omitted). A Rule 12(c) motion is the functional equivalent of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Harris v. Orange Cty., 682 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2012). Consequently, I must determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter . . . to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A complaint or individual claim should be dismissed without leave to amend only when “it is clear . . . that the complaint could not be saved by amendment.” Steckman v. Hart Brewing, Inc., 143 F.3d 1293, 1296 (9th Cir. 1998).

         A. FDCPA

         To state a claim against Langsdale under the FDCPA, Cox must plead plausible facts alleging that (1) Cox is a “consumer” under 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(3); (2) the debt arises out of a transaction entered into for personal purposes; (3) Langsdale is a “debt collector” under 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6); and (4) Langsdale engaged in an act or omission prohibited by the FDCPA. Wheeler v. Premiere Credit of N. Am. 80 F.Supp.3d 1108, 1112 (S.D. Cal. 2015) (citing Turner v. Cook, 362 F.3d 1219, 1226-27 (9th Cir. 2004)). Langsdale argues that Cox has not sufficiently alleged that it engaged in any acts or omissions that violated the FDCPA.

         Cox alleges that all of the defendants violated “15 U.S.C. § 1692, et. seq.” by (a) “mischaracterizing the character, amount, and legal status of the Debt;” (b) “employing various false representations and deceptive means to collect the alleged Debt;” and (c) “attempting to collect the Debt under false pretenses.” ECF No. 1 at 5. Langsdale contends that these allegations “are nothing more than legal conclusions . . . which fail to provide Langsdale with fair notice regarding what FDCPA sections were violated.” ECF No. 24 at 7.[4]

         In the factual allegations portion of Cox's complaint, Cox alleges that Langsdale filed a substitution of attorney notice in August 2016 but failed to serve a copy on Cox, and that in November 2016 Langsdale emailed Cox's attorney to inform her that Account Corp had decided to dismiss the action. ECF No. 1 at 3-4. Cox also alleges upon information and belief that Langsdale failed to provide him with a validation letter that complied with 15 U.S.C. § 1692g, and “continued with its efforts to collect the Debt despite the fact that it failed to comply with section 1692[g] of the FDCPA.” Id. at 3. As explained below, none of these allegations provides a sufficient factual basis to sustain a FDCPA claim.[5]

         1. Substitution ...


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