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Goad v. MCT Group

December 4, 2009

SHADRACK S. GOAD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MCT GROUP, LAW OFFICES OF ROBERT L. SUSNOW, AND MISSION FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

Defendants MCT Group ("MCT") and Law Offices of Robert L. Susnow ("Susnow") (collectively "Defendants") have filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Defendant Mission Federal Credit Union ("Mission Federal") was dismissed pursuant to a joint motion by the parties on September 15, 2009. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that sometime before November 16, 2004, Plaintiff allegedly incurred certain financial obligations. (Compl. ¶ 19.) Subsequently, Plaintiff allegedly fell behind in the payments. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Sometime thereafter, but before August 9, 2006, the alleged debt was assigned, placed, or otherwise transferred to Defendants for collection. (Compl. ¶ 23.)

Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy protection on October 20, 2006. (Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff's debts were discharged under the Bankruptcy Code on January 25, 2007, rendering the alleged debts no longer collectable. (Compl. ¶ 25.) Defendants all received notice that Plaintiff had filed for bankruptcy and that Plaintiff's debts were subsequently discharged. (Compl. ¶ 26.)

On or about March 6, 2009, Defendants applied for garnishment of Plaintiff's wages. (Compl. ¶ 24.) Defendant Mission Federal continued to attempt to collect on the debt and failed to notify and stop MCT and Susnow from collecting on the debt on Mission Federal's behalf. (Comp. ¶ 27.)

Plaintiff alleges that through their attempts to collect on a discharged debt, Defendants violated various provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("RFDCPA"), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1788-1788.32.

II. STANDARD

"After the pleadings are closed -- but early enough not to delay trial -- a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). 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 & Co, Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989). All allegations of fact by the party opposing the motion are accepted as true, and construed in the light most favorable to that party. General Conference Corp. of Seventh-Day Adventists v. Seventh-Day Adventist Congregational Church, 887 F.2d 228, 230 (9th Cir. 1989).

Courts have discretion to grant Rule 12(c) motions with leave to amend. In re Dynamic Random Access Memory Antitrust Litigation, 516 F. Supp. 2d 1072, 1084 (N.D. Cal. 2007). Courts also have discretion to grant dismissal on a 12(c) motion, in lieu of judgment, on any given claim. Id.; see also Amersbach v. City of Cleveland, 598 F.2d 1033, 1038 (6th Cir. 1979).

III. DISCUSSION

Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that Plaintiff's FDCPA and RFDCPA claims are precluded by the Bankruptcy Code because they are premised on Defendants' attempts to collect a debt that was discharged by the Bankruptcy Court. The Court agrees with Defendants that Plaintiff's claims, as currently pled, are precluded by the Bankruptcy Code.

In Walls v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 276 F.3d 502 (9th Cir. 2002), a Chapter 7 debtor brought an action against Wells Fargo in district court, alleging that Wells Fargo violated the Bankruptcy Code's discharge injunction and the FDCPA by attempting to collect her debt after it had been discharged. The Ninth Circuit held that the debtor's remedy for Wells Fargo's alleged violation of the discharge injunction (11 U.S.C. § 524) remained under the Bankruptcy Code and that the debtor could not use the FDCPA to bypass the Code's remedial scheme:

To permit a simultaneous claim under the FDCPA would allow through the back door what Walls cannot accomplish through the front door-a private right of action. This would circumvent the remedial scheme of the Code under which Congress struck a balance between the interests of debtors and creditors by permitting (and limiting) debtors' remedies for violating the discharge injunction to contempt. "[A] mere browse through the complex, detailed, and comprehensive provisions of the lengthy Bankruptcy Code ... demonstrates Congress's intent to create a whole system under federal control which is designed to bring together and adjust all of the rights and duties of creditors and embarrassed debtors alike." MSR Exploration, 74 F.3d at 914 (state law malicious prosecution claim based on bankruptcy filings preempted). Nothing in either Act persuades us that Congress intended to allow debtors to bypass the Code's remedial scheme when it enacted the ...


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