United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS THE
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Abel Osagie (“Mr. Osagie” or
“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed a
Complaint against Defendants U.S. Equities, Linda Strumpf
(“Ms. Strumpf), and Joseph Doherty (“Judge
Doherty”). Mr. Osagie brings six claims for relief,
five against Defendants Strumpf and U.S. Equities, and one
against Defendant Doherty, arising out of an action in
Connecticut Superior Court in which Defendant U.S. Equities,
represented by Ms. Strumpf, brought a complaint against Ms.
Osagie's wife. In 2012, Defendant Doherty granted
judgment against Ms. Osagie in this action. Before the Court
are motions to dismiss from all Defendants. For the reasons
that follow, these motions are GRANTED.
Equities is a New York corporation that does business in the
State of Connecticut. Am. Compl. ¶ 3
(“Compl.”). Ms. Strumpf is an attorney in the
State of Connecticut with office in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Id. at ¶ 4. Judge Doherty was a Judge in the
State of Connecticut Superior Court “at the time of his
actions relevant to this case.” Id. at ¶
30, 2007, Mr. and Ms. Osagie signed an agreement with
JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. for a home mortgage. Compl. ¶
11. Ms. Osagie also used a Chase Bank credit card, which was
subject to a cardmember agreement. Id. at
¶¶ 13-14; see also Credit Card Contract,
Ex. 2 to Compl. (“Contract”), ECF No. 29-1. The
Contract, Mr. Osagie alleges, included a choice of law clause
[t]he terms and enforcement of this Agreement and your
account shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with
Federal law and to the extent state law applies, the law of
Delaware. Without regard to conflict-of-law principles, the
law of Delaware where we and your account are located, will
apply no matter where you live or use the account.
Id. at 4; see also Compl. ¶ 14. On
July 1, 2007, Mr. and Ms. Osagie entered into an agreement,
under which Mr. Osagie, “the indemnitor, ” was
able to “use the credit from the joint open mortgage
account with Chase Bank in financing his business
ventures.” Ex. 5 to Compl. (“Indemnity
Agreement”), ECF No. 29-1 at p. 33. The Chase Bank
account at issue in the Complaint was listed in the
agreement. Id. In the agreement, Mr. Osagie also
agreed to “indemnify [Ms. Osagie] from any and all
liability, loss, or damage [she] may suffer as a result of
claims, demands, costs, or judgments . . . arising from the
use of the accounts.” Id.
December 2008, because of a dispute about their Chase Bank
mortgage, the Osagies “stopped paying on all the Chase
Bank Accounts, ” including the credit card account.
Id. at ¶ 20. In 2012, the Osagies raised claims
against Chase relating to a mortgage dispute in a separate
lawsuit in the District of Connecticut. Id. at
¶ 23 (citing Pride Acquisitions, LLC v. Osagie,
No. 3:12-cv-00639-JCH (2015)).
U.S. Equities acquired Ms. Osagie's credit card agreement
from Chase Bank. Compl. ¶ 24. Ms. Strumpf, a lawyer for
U.S. Equities, wrote a demand letter to Ms. Osagie on August
2, 2011, identifying herself and Defendant U.S. Equities as
the successors in interest to her Chase Bank credit card
agreement. Id. at ¶ 25. Ms. Osagie informed her
husband about this notice. Id. at ¶ 27. Mr.
Osagie “promptly informed Ms. Strumpf through a series
of communications (phone calls, fax) with her and staff of
her law office that no money was owed to Chase Bank on [the
Chase account] since the account was damaged by Chase Bank
and that whatever was transferred to U.S. Equities Corp. was
worthless.” Id. at ¶ 27.
Strumpf and U.S. Equities attempted to collect the debt for
the next nine months. Id. at ¶ 30. Then, on May
11, 2012, Ms. Osagie received a summons from the Connecticut
Superior Court in Danbury, alleging. Id. at ¶
31. Judge Doherty presided over the case. See U.S.
Equities Corp. v. Osagie, No. DBD-CV-126009745-S
September 18, 2012, Ms. Osagie moved to substitute Mr. Osagie
in the Superior Court action, claiming that Mr. Osagie was
the assignee of the account and the “true owner of the
rights under the [Chase account].” Compl. ¶ 32;
see also Docket, ECF No. 104. On October 1, 2012,
Judge Doherty denied this motion. See Docket,
104.05. On October 10, Ms. Osagie moved the Superior Court to
reconsider this decision. Id. at 107.00. Twelve days
later, Judge Doherty denied this request. Id. at
January 17, 2013, Ms. Osagie filed an answer to U.S.
Equities' Amended Complaint, raising two special
defenses. First, she claimed that Chase Bank had breached the
Contract before assigning the underlying debt to U.S.
Equities, and, second, she argued that U.S. Equities had
“dirty hands, ” and was “acting in concert
with Chase Bank … in order to make it difficult for
[the Osagies] to bring Chase Bank to justice by increasing
the number of entities [the Ms. Osagie] ha[d] to chase (no
pun intended) after.” Docket, No. 117.00, (Answer), p.
On October 29, 2013, U.S. Equities moved for summary
judgment. Id. at 118.00.
November 1, 2013, Ms. Osagie moved to join Mr. Osagie as a
third party plaintiff and to implead Chase Bank. ECF No.
120.00. The motion was denied on November 14, 2013.
Id. at 120.05. On December 2, 2013, Ms. Osagie moved
the Superior Court to dismiss U.S. Equities' amended
complaint, arguing that the Contract mandated that Delaware
law apply to all disputes between the parties and therefore
deprived the Superior Court of subject matter jurisdiction
over the action. Id. at 120.00; Motion to Dismiss in
DBD-CV-12-6009745-S, Ex. B to Mot. for Jud. Notice, ECF No.
27-2, p. 90. The Court denied the motion on December 23,
2013. Docket, ECF No. 126.50. Judge Doherty granted summary
judgment as to Ms. Osagie's liability on January 22,
2014. On March 31, 2014, Judge Doherty docketed a memorandum
of decision, in which he explained his reasons for denying
Ms. Osagie's motion to join Mr. Osagie and implead Chase
Bank, as well as his reasons for denying her motion to
dismiss. Id. at 126.50.
decision, Judge Doherty specifically referred to Ms.
Osagie's argument that Connecticut law did not apply to
the transaction at issue. He stated that:
The basis of the defendant's motion to dismiss is that
the alleged credit card agreement, which the defendant claims
governs this matter, states that Federal law and Delaware law
governs the terms of the card member agreement and, since
Delaware law may apply, this court has no subject matter
jurisdiction. However, since the basis of the complaint is an
account stated, the card member agreement would not be
applicable. Even if the laws of another state would apply to
this case, that would not deprive this court of subject
Decision, Docket, ECF No. 126.50. Judge Doherty explained
that the court had subject matter jurisdiction over the debt
collection case because Ms. Osagie resided in Connecticut
when it was commenced. Id. He explained that the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act required a plaintiff in a
debt collection case to bring a legal action against a
consumer in the judicial district where the consumer signed
the contract, or in the one where the consumer resided.
Id. (citing 15 U.S.C. 1692i).
Osagie alleges, Ms. Osagie “did her best to fight
Defendant Doherty's actions through an appeal.”
Compl. ¶ 34. First, Ms. Osagie moved to appeal Judge
Doherty's decisions on her motion for impleader and
motion to dismiss, but the Appellate Court found that neither
motion was an appealable final judgment and therefore
dismissed the appeal. Docket, 139.00. Then, after a hearing
on damages, Judge Doherty rendered judgment for U.S. Equities
in the amount of $23, 325.82 and ordered Ms. Osagie to make
weekly payments totaling $140.00 per month. Docket, 143.00.
The Appellate Court affirmed the decision per curiam on
October 13, 2015. Id. at 149.00; U.S. Equities
Corp. v. Osagie, 160 Conn.App. 904 (2015).
Osagie filed this case on September 29, 2016. His first five
claims are against Defendants Strumpf and U.S. Equities Corp.
The first claim seeks a declaratory judgment “that
Connecticut common laws are not applicable to any collection
effort on [the Chase account] and that [the] account is
governed and can only be interpreted in accordance with
Federal law and to the extent state law applies, the law of
Delaware as agreed in the card member agreement.”
Compl. ¶ 50. The second claim, a claim for
“negligence per se, ” alleges that Defendants
U.S. Equities and Ms. Strumpf negligently attempted to
collect debt on the Chase account, although they knew that
such an attempt was a violation of Delaware state law.
Id. at ¶¶ 55-58. The third claim, for
“negligence, ” alleges that the same two
Defendants negligently “pursu[ed] a disputed debt based
on the laws of the State of Delaware after recovery on the
debt was time-barred was negligent under the laws of the
State of Delaware.” Id. at ¶ 65. The
fourth claim, for “fraudulent/intentional
misrepresentation, ” alleges that the same two
Defendants intentionally and fraudulently refused to provide
a purchase agreement when attempting to collect the debt,
“in order to hide their knowledge of” the
agreement's “choice-of-law” provisions.
Id. at ¶ 74. The fifth claim alleges that the
same two defendants attempted to “collect on a
time-barred debt, ” in violation of the Federal Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Id.
at ¶ 83.
Osagie brings only one claim against Defendant Doherty. In
this claim, his sixth, he seeks a declaratory judgment that
Judge Doherty lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the
Superior Court action, and alleges that Judge Doherty
“aid[ed] and abet[ted] the fraudulent acts of U.S.
Equities Corp. and Linda Strumpf in hearing [the Superior
Court case] when he had no subject-matter jurisdiction,
” in violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. §§ 1983 and
1985. Compl. ¶¶ 89-94.
September, all three Defendants moved to dismiss the case.
See ECF Nos. 20 and 25. On September 29, 2016, Mr.
Osagie filed a motion for leave to amend, as well as an
amended complaint. See ECF No. 29. Before the Court
ruled on the motion for leave to amend, Defendants moved to
dismiss the amended complaint as well. See Defendant
Doherty's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 30) (“Doherty
Mot.”); Defendants' U.S. Equities and Linda
Strumpf's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 32) (“Strumpf
Mot.”). Accordingly, the Court grants Mr. Osagie's
motion for leave to amend and accepts the Amended Complaint
that he provided as the operative Complaint in this