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Thoby v. Century Financial Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 4, 2019

JENEVIEVE THOBY a/k/a JENNY THOBY, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTURY FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         This case arises from an attempt to collect an unpaid bill that Jenevieve Thoby (“Thoby”) purportedly owes Bridgeport Hospital. On May 21, 2018, Century Financial Services, Inc. (“CFS”), mailed a collection letter to Thoby seeking to collect $150.00 on behalf of their “Client” Bridgeport Hospital. Compl. (Doc. No. 1) ¶¶ 27-33; Ex. A (Collection Letter). The crux of Thoby's Complaint is that CFS's collection letter failed to comport with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) (15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.). Specifically, Thoby contends that the letter “deceptively fails to identify who the current creditor is to whom the alleged debt is owed.” Compl. ¶ 28. Although the letter lists Bridgeport Hospital as “Our Client, ” Thoby alleges that the letter fails to expressly identify Bridgeport Hospital as the current creditor in violation of FDCPA §§ 1692e-g. See id. ¶¶ 34-48.

         CFS moved to dismiss the Complaint on October 26, 2018. See Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 12). CFS argues that Thoby's claims are without merit because (1) any alleged FDCPA violation lack materiality, (2) the letter sufficiently identified Bridgeport Hospital as the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and (3) her allegations do not amount to unfair or unconscionable conduct. In her Opposition (doc. no. 13), Thoby argues that CFS's letter violated the FDCPA because the least-sophisticated-consumer would be unable to identify Bridgeport Hospital as the current creditor.

         On February 28, 2019, I held a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss, at which I took the motion under advisement. See Doc. No. 18. After reviewing the parties' arguments, I conclude that Thoby fails to allege a material violation of the FDCPA. In addition, CFS's collection letter clearly and accurately discloses the identity of Thoby's creditor. Finally, Thoby fails to allege how CFS's conduct is “unfair” or “unconscionable” under the FDCPA. Therefore, I grant CFS's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is designed “merely to assess the legal feasibility of a complaint, not to assay the weight of evidence which might be offered in support thereof.” Ryder Energy Distribution Corp. v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984) (quoting Geisler v. Petrocelli, 616 F.2d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1980)).

         When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs, and decide whether it is plausible that plaintiffs have a valid claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Leeds v. Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996).

         Under Twombly, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” and assert a cause of action with enough heft to show entitlement to relief and “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” 550 U.S. at 555, 570; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (“While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.”). The plausibility standard set forth in Twombly and Iqbal obligates the plaintiff to “provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief” through more than “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotation marks omitted). Plausibility at the pleading stage is nonetheless distinct from probability, and “a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of [the claims] is improbable, and . . . recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Id. at 556 (quotation marks omitted).

         II. Background

         On May 21, 2018, CFS mailed a letter to Thoby that included the following language in the upper right-hand corner:

Our Client: Bridgeport Hospital For: JENNY THOBY Account #: XX5723 Account Balance: $150.00

Compl.; Ex. A (Collection Letter). Directly below the opening caption, the letter stated:

This communication is from a debt collector.
The above account is seriously past due. The balance due has been placed with Century Financial Services, Inc. for collection.
UNLESS YOU INTEND TO EXERCISE THE RIGHTS STATED BELOW, YOU ARE INSTRUCTED TO PAY THE AMOUNT DUE TO THIS OFFICE TO ...

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