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Peters v. Maxwell & Morgan, Corp.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 29, 2019



          Gloria M. Navarro, United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Maxwell & Morgan, Corp.'s (“Defendant's”) Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 20). Plaintiff Glenkirk Peters (“Plaintiff) filed a Response, (ECF No. 21), and Defendant filed a Reply, (ECF No. 26).[1] For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case concerns Defendant's collection of a debt owed by Plaintiff to the homeowner's association governing Plaintiffs home in Arizona. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19). Plaintiff alleges that, when he sold his Arizona home in 2013, he believed the proceeds of the sale “paid off any debts relating to the house, including the homeowners association, Rancho El Dorado HOA (the ‘HOA').” (Id. ¶ 19). After that sale, Plaintiff moved to Las Vegas, where he worked for Caesars Entertainment. (Id. ¶ 21). Plaintiff states that he never worked for Caesars while in Arizona, nor does Caesars have corporate offices in Arizona. (Id. ¶ 22).

         In 2016, Defendant sued Plaintiff in Arizona state court alleging that Plaintiff had outstanding financial obligations to the HOA. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24). Defendant then served Plaintiff with this lawsuit through publication in Arizona, though Plaintiff alleges that he did not know about the suit at that time. (Id. ¶¶ 26-27). Defendant eventually obtained a judgment against Plaintiff in Arizona state court (the “Arizona Judgment”). (Id. ¶ 28). From that lawsuit and judgment, Defendant sought to garnish Plaintiffs wages to repay the outstanding HOA debt by securing a Writ of Garnishment in the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, County of Pinal. (Id. ¶ 32). Defendant did not seek or secure a writ of garnishment in Nevada. (Id. ¶ 34). As of May 2018, Defendant garnished approximately $418.51 per week of Plaintiff s wages earned at Caesars based on the Arizona Judgment. (Id. ¶ 33).

         Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on July 27, 2018, asserting that Defendant's garnishment of his wages was procedurally incorrect under Nevada law. Defendant moved to dismiss the initial Complaint on September 28, 2018, and also moved for judgment on the pleadings. (Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 16); (Mot. J. on Pleadings, ECF No. 15). Roughly eleven days later, Plaintiff amended his initial Complaint, (Am. Compl., ECF No. 17), and alleges that Defendant's actions in collecting the HOA debt and garnishing his wages were improper under Nevada laws, thus supporting a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692. (Id. ¶¶ 38-65). Defendant thereafter filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 20).


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) mandates that a court dismiss a cause of action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See N. Star Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is appropriate only when the complaint does not give the defendant fair notice of a legally cognizable claim and the grounds on which it rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the Court will take all material allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). The Court, however, is not required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. See Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). A formulaic recitation of a cause of action with conclusory allegations is not sufficient; a plaintiff must plead facts showing that a violation is plausible, not just possible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         A court may also dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Hearns v. San Bernardino Police Dept., 530 F.3d 1124, 1129 (9th Cir. 2008). Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a plaintiff's complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Prolix, confusing complaints” should be dismissed because “they impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges.” McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996).

         “Generally, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion . . . . However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered on a motion to dismiss.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). Similarly, “documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss” without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994). Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a court may take judicial notice of “matters of public record.” Mack v. S. Bay Beer Distrib., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986). Otherwise, if the district court considers materials outside of the pleadings, the motion to dismiss becomes a motion for summary judgment. See Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 925 (9th Cir. 2001).

         If the court grants a motion to dismiss, it must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. The court should “freely give” leave to amend when there is no “undue delay, bad faith[, ] dilatory motive on the part of the movant . . . undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of . . . the amendment, [or] futility of the amendment . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Generally, leave to amend is only denied when it is clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. See DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992).


         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on the ground that Defendant never sought to enforce or execute its Arizona Judgment in Nevada; and thus, it did not engage in abusive debt collection practices by violating Nevada law. (Mot. Dismiss (“MTD”) 1:20-2:7, ECF No. 20). Defendant claims that it merely served Caesars's registered agent in Arizona with the Arizona Judgment and court-authorized Writ of Garnishment in compliance with Arizona's laws, and Caesars then properly garnished Plaintiff's wages.[2] (Id. 5:19-6:3). Accordingly, Defendant contends that by not petitioning Plaintiff's employer in Nevada, nor seeking to execute the Arizona Judgment through Nevada courts, it had no obligation to domesticate the Arizona Judgment in Nevada or comply with Nevada's laws on execution of foreign judgments. (Id. 8:5-24).

         In response, Plaintiff argues that, because he earned the garnished wages in Nevada, Defendant had to comply with Nevada's Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (“UEFJA”), which consists of Nevada Revised Statutes (“NRS”) §§ 17.330 to 17.400, before garnishment could occur. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 44); (Resp. 9:4-21, ECF No. 21). By failing to domesticate the Arizona Judgment under Nevada's UEFJA, Plaintiff contends that ...

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