United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO STRIKE [ECF NOS. 87, 88]
P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Stephen and Bunny Laforge sue defendants Richland Holdings,
Inc., RC Willey Financial Services, and Randall Corporation
d/b/a Bowen Law Offices for alleged actions arising from the
collection of a debt. In the amended complaint, the Laforges
claim that Richland violated the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692g, because the
first communication they received from Richland in January
2017 did not have the statutorily required disclosures.
Alternatively, they contend that if Richland sent a prior
communication, that letter violated the FDCPA because it did
not adequately break out the components of the debt among
principle, interest, and fees. The Laforges assert against
all defendants state law claims for abuse of process and
civil conspiracy, and they assert against RC Willey a claim
for violations of the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
defendants move for summary judgment on a variety of grounds.
They also move to strike the amended complaint, contending
that it strayed beyond my prior order allowing amendment. The
Laforges oppose both motions. The parties are familiar with
the facts, and I will not repeat them here except where
necessary. I grant the defendants' motion for summary
judgment because (1) the FDCPA claim is untimely to the
extent it is based on the September 2015 letter and (2) the
January 2017 letter was not sent by Richland and was not an
initial communication that required disclosures. I grant the
defendants' motion on the state law claims because the
plaintiffs lack standing to assert those claims after
Richland purchased them at a sheriff's sale.
judgment is appropriate if the movant shows “there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a), (c). A fact is material if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A dispute is genuine if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Id.
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden
then shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific
facts demonstrating there is a genuine issue of material fact
for trial. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212
F.3d 528, 531 (9th Cir. 2000); Sonner v. Schwabe N. Am.,
Inc., 911 F.3d 989, 992 (9th Cir. 2018) (“To
defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party must produce
evidence of a genuine dispute of material fact that could
satisfy its burden at trial.”). I view the evidence and
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. James River Ins. Co. v. Hebert Schenk,
P.C., 523 F.3d 915, 920 (9th Cir. 2008).
1692g requires a debt collector to validate the debt to be
collected by providing certain information related to the
debt either in the initial communication with the consumer or
in a written notice within five days after the initial
communication. See 15 U.S.C. 1692g(a). The
plaintiffs allege Richland violated § 1692g by sending
an initial communication to them in January 2017 that did not
contain the statutorily required disclosures. They also
dispute that Richland sent them a letter in September 2015.
Finally, they contend that even if Richland sent the prior
letter, that letter was deficient because it did not break
out the amount due in terms of principle, interest, and fees
and so did not identify “the amount of the debt”
as required under § 1692g(a)(1).
moves for summary judgment, arguing that any claim based on
the September 2015 letter is untimely. Richland also argues
there can be no claim on the January 2017 letter because (1)
Richland did not send it to the Laforges and (2) it was not
an initial communication that triggered the disclosure duties
where Richland had already sent the initial communication in
September 2015 Letter
FDCPA claim must be brought “within one year from the
date on which the violation occurs.” 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(d). The discovery rule applies to the FDCPA's
statute of limitations. Mangum v. Action Collection
Serv., Inc., 575 F.3d 935, 941 (9th Cir. 2009). Thus,
the “limitations period begins to run when the
plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is
the basis of the action.” Id. at 940.
has presented evidence that it sent an initial communication
to the Laforges in September 2015. ECF Nos. 53-8 at 3; 53-9
at 3; 53-10. The Laforges filed this lawsuit on March 17,
2017. Consequently, unless there is evidence the Laforges did
not discover their claim related to the initial letter within
one year of March 17, 2017, their claim based on the
September 2015 letter is untimely.
law presumes that “a letter duly directed and mailed
was received in the regular course of the mail.” Nev.
Rev. Stat. § 47.250(13). The Laforges present no
evidence raising a genuine dispute to rebut that presumption.
The evidence the Laforges cite does not support their
position that they did not receive this letter. ECF Nos. 93-7
at 11. Bunny Laforge testified she did not remember whether
she had any communications with RC Willey about her account
being delinquent. ECF No. 93-15 at 3. Stephen Laforge
testified he became aware of the delinquency in the RC Willey
account after he lost his job and spoke to his wife about
which bills had been paid and which had not. ECF No. 93-15 at
5. But apparently neither was asked if they received the
September 2015 letter, and they have not presented
declarations attesting that they did not.
Laforges' attorney avers that the Laforges learned of the
September 2015 letter for the first time in discovery. ECF
No. 93-7 at 15. But the Laforges' attorney lacks personal
knowledge about whether the Laforges received the September
2015 letter prior to that time. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(4) (“An affidavit or declaration used to support
or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set
out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that
the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the
matters stated.”). The ...