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JOHNSON v. AMO RECOVERIES A/K/A ASSET MGMT. OUTSOURCING

October 19, 2005.

DONALD JOHNSON, an individual, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
AMO RECOVERIES a/k/a ASSET MANAGEMENT OUTSOURCING, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD WHYTE, District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

Plaintiff Donald Johnson ("Johnson") has sued defendant AMO Recoveries ("AMO") for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("the FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(10). AMO moves for judgment on the pleadings on Johnson's claims. Johnson opposes the motion. The court has read the moving and responding papers and considered the arguments of counsel. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants AMO's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

  This case concerns six letters that AMO allegedly sent to Johnson concerning his Discover credit card debt of $3,821.35. Johnson contends that he received the first letter from AMO on July 14, 2004. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9. The letter, entitled "SETTLEMENT OFFER," provides that "AMO Recoveries, duly authorized by Discover Financial Services Inc., hereby offers to accept 60% as settlement in full on the above mentioned account. This settlement offer shall be null and void if not received by [sic]." Compl. ¶ 11; Ex. A. The letter did not provide a date by when its offer would expire. Id. at ¶ 12.

  According to Johnson, AMO sent him a second letter on August 2, 2004. Id. at ¶¶ 13-14. This letter, entitled "NOTICE," stated: "You are hereby given notice to satisfy your outstanding balance. If you cannot pay the full balance, please contact this office to discuss payment arrangements with our collectors." Id. at ¶ 15.

  Johnson claims that he received a third letter from AMO on August 24, 2004. Id. at ¶ 17. The letter provided: "THE INFORMATION ON THIS ACCOUNT COULD BE FORWARDED TO A CREDIT BUREAU. THIS COULD BECOME PART OF YOUR CREDIT RECORD. THIS IS A DEMAND FOR PAYMENT IN FULL. . . ." Id. at ¶¶ 17-18; Ex. C.

  Johnson asserts that AMO sent him a fourth letter dated September 2, 2004. Id. at ¶ 19. This letter, which bore the header "SETTLEMENT OFFER," states that "AMO Recoveries, duly authorized by Discover Financial Services, hereby offers to accept 60% as settlement in full on the above mentioned account. This settlement offer shall be null and void if not received by 09-20-04." Id. at ¶ 21; Ex. D.

  Johnson alleges that he received a fifth letter entitled "SETTLEMENT OFFER" from AMO dated September 14, 2004. Id. at ¶ 24. The letter provided that "AMO Recoveries, duly authorized by Discover Financial Services Inc., hereby offers to accept 50% as settlement in full on the above mentioned account. This settlement offer shall be null and void if not received by [sic]." Id. at ¶ 24; Ex. D. The letter does not state by when it must be accepted. Id.

  Finally, Johnson asserts that AMO sent him a sixth letter dated October 20, 2004. Id. at ¶ 27. The letter is captioned "SETTLEMENT AUTHORIZATION" and "LIMITED OFFER." Id. at ¶ 28; Ex. F. The letter states that "OUR CLIENT HAS AUTHORIZED US TO SETTLE THIS ACCOUNT FOR A REDUCED AMOUNT. PLEASE CALL FOR DETAILS." Id.

  II. ANALYSIS

  A. Standard For Judgment on the Pleadings

  A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is a "means to challenge the sufficiency of the complaint after an answer has been filed." New.Net, Inc. v. Lavasoft, 356 F. Supp. 2d 1090, 1115 (C.D. Cal. 2004). A motion for judgment on the pleadings is similar to a motion to dismiss. "For the purposes of the motion, the allegations of the non-moving party must be accepted as true, while the allegations of the moving party which have been denied are assumed to be false. Judgment on the pleadings is proper when the moving party clearly establishes on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990).

  B. THE FDCPA

  The FDCPA forbids companies from resorting to duplicitous tactics to collect debts:
A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representationor means in connection with the collection of any debt. . . . [T]he following conduct is a violation of this section. . . . [¶]. The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.
15 U.S.C. § 1692e(10). Congress intended the FDCPA to "eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not completely disadvantaged, and to promote consistent state action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses." 15 U.S.C. § 1692. As the Ninth Circuit has noted, Congress' primary concern was eradicating the use of "threats of violence, telephone calls at unreasonable hours, [and] misrepresentation of a consumer's legal rights." Romaine v. Diversified Collection Services, Inc., 155, F.3d 1142, 1149 (9th ...

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