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Ceraldi v. Strumpf

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 2, 2018

PEGGY CERALDI, Plaintiff,
v.
LINDA STRUMPF, U.S. EQUITIES CORP., Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Warren W. Eginton Senior United States District Judge.

         In this action, plaintiff Peggy Ceraldi asserts claims of violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) against defendants Linda Strumpf and U.S. Equities Corp. (“Equities”), and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”) against Equities. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss on the basis of the statute of limitations, the doctrine of Rooker-Feldman, collateral estoppel, res judicata and failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the motion to dismiss.

         Background

         Defendant U.S. Equities is a business that buys and collects defaulted consumer debt. Defendant Strumpf is an attorney who works for defendant Equities to collect the debts.

         On January 26, 2011, defendant Equities filed a complaint in state court regarding plaintiff's default on a credit card account. The complaint requested prejudgment interest at a rate of 24% and post-judgment interest at a rate of 10%.

         On May 31, 2011, defendant Equities obtained a default judgment in the amount of $33, 921.25 against plaintiff from the state court. The state court order stated: “Judgment enters for the plaintiff against the defendant, in the amount of $30, 895, plus $2, 683.05 in attorneys fees, $343.20 in costs, plus post judgment interest pursuant to General Statutes Sec. 37-3a and General Statutes Sec. 52-356d(e). Defendant shall make weekly payments of $35.00 commencing three (3) weeks after the date notice was sent.” Defendants applied a rate of 10% post-judgment interest to the amount awarded as owing to Equities.

         In December 2016, defendants notified her that her balance was $42, 894.36. By that time, she had paid more than $10, 000 on the judgment.

         On June 27, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion for protective order in state court. This motion was denied for failure to pay the filing fee to open the judgment.

         On September 1, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion in state court to open the judgment. On September 18, 2017, the state court denied plaintiff's motion to open the judgment.

         Plaintiff filed the instant action in federal court on September 28, 2017. On October 6, 2017, plaintiff filed an appeal of the state court's order dated September 18, 2017.

         In this action, plaintiff has alleged that application of post-judgment interest rate of 10% was improper without an order from the state court quantifying the rate. She asserts damages including the loss of filing fees, the loss of use of her money and emotional distress.

         Discussion

         A motion to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(1) "challenges the court's statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case before it." 2A James W. Moore et. al., Moore's Federal Practice, ¶ 12.07, at 12-49 (2d ed. 1994). Once the question of jurisdiction is raised, the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction rests on the party asserting such jurisdiction. See Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 446 (1942).

         The function of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is "merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." Ryder Energy Distribution v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984). When deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the pleader. Hishon v. King, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The complaint must contain the grounds upon which the claim rests through factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff is obliged to amplify a ...


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