The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendant for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §1692. Presently before the Court are Defendant's three alternative motions: to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, to transfer for improper venue, or to transfer for convenience. Plaintiffs oppose all three motions. Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court DENIES Defendant's motions.
Roy and Beverly Patterson ("Plaintiffs") are residents of San Diego County, California. Plaintiffs own real property located in Roxana, Illinois.
Latimer Levay Jurasek LLC ("Defendant") is a law firm that is a limited liability company with its principal place of business in Chicago, Illinois. U.S. Bank National Association N.D. retained Defendant to handle debt collection.
Plaintiffs defaulted on a loan ("Mortgage") owed to U.S. Bank National Association N.D. ("Lender") and secured by the Illinois property. Lender retained Defendant to handle the Mortgage and other loan documents. On March 9, 2009, Defendant sent a letter ("Letter") to Plaintiffs addressed to Plaintiffs' California residence, as well as to Plaintiffs' address in Roxana, Illinois. The Letter informed Plaintiffs Lender retained Defendant to handle the Mortgage, and all other loan documents executed on the Illinois property. Additionally, the Letter required Plaintiffs to pay the amount due by April 8, 2008 or Lender would enforce all of its rights. The Letter included a separate page entitled "NOTICE REQUIRED BY THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT." It is undisputed Plaintiffs' Complaint arises entirely from this Letter.
On March 20, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint, asserting six claims of relief for various violations of the FDCPA. For example, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant's Letter violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692(g)(3) by stating the consumer must dispute the validity of the debt in writing.
On May 8, 2009, Defendant filed three alternative Motions. Plaintiffs opposed and the Court finds the matter amenable to disposition without oral argument. Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1).
Where there is no applicable federal statute governing personal jurisdiction, courts apply the law of the state in which the district court sits. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692(k)(d); Fed R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A). California's "long arm" statute permits local courts to exercise jurisdiction to the outer limits of constitutional due process; therefore, courts need to determine whether the assertion of personal jurisdiction over the defendant violates the Due Process Clause. See, e.g., CAL. CIV. PROC. Code § 410.10; Data Disk, Inc. v. Systems Tech. Assoc., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1286 (9th Cir. 1977).
The three traditional bases for personal jurisdiction are physical presence, domicile and consent. See Burnham v. Superior Court, 495 U.S. 604 (1990). However, a non-resident's "minimum contacts" with the forum state may serve as an alternative basis for local jurisdiction as long as the suit does not "offend the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 186, 207 (1945).
Personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant can be either general or specific depending on the nature and quality of the defendant's "contacts" with the forum state. See Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1361 (1990). General jurisdiction exists when the defendant's contacts are "substantial, continuous and systematic," even if the cause of action is unrelated to the defendant's activities within the state. See Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 445 (1951). Specific ...