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Goad v. MCT Group

April 6, 2010

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 MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

Defendants MCT Group ("MCT") and Law Offices of Robert L. Susnow ("Susnow") (collectively "Defendants") have filed motions for judgment on the pleadings with respect to Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. 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' motions are GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In Plaintiff's original complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants, through their attempts to collect on a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy, 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.

In an order filed on December 7, 2009 (12/7/09 Order), the Court granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings brought by Defendants. Following Walls v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 276 F.3d 502 (9th Cir. 2002), the Court held that Plaintiff's FDCPA and RFDCPA claims were precluded by the Bankruptcy Code because Plaintiff's claims were premised on Defendants' violation of the discharge injunction. However, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint "to the extent that Plaintiff can plead violations of the FDCPA and RFDCPA that are independent of any violation of the discharge injunction." (Emphasis added.)

Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on December 8, 2009. According to the FAC, prior to November 16, 2004, Plaintiff allegedly incurred certain financial obligations in the form of a student loan to Mission Federal Credit Union. (FAC ¶ 18.) Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff allegedly fell behind in the payments. (FAC ¶ 22.) Subsequently, the alleged debt was assigned to MCT and Susnow, as MCT's legal representative, for collection. (FAC ¶¶ 23-24.)

On or about January 9, 2009, Susnow served on Plaintiff's Credit Union a Notice to Levy and demanded payment of the alleged debt. (FAC ¶ 25.) Plaintiff asserts that the alleged debt was not owed, and MCT and Susnow had no legal authority to levy any funds from Plaintiff. (FAC ¶¶ 25-28.)

On or about March 6, 2009, MCT submitted to the United States Navy an "Involuntary Allotment Application" for purposes of garnishing Plaintiff's wages. (FAC ¶ 31.) In the Application, MCT swore under penalty of perjury that (1) if Plaintiff were a civilian employee instead of a member of the armed forces, Plaintiff's pay could be garnished under applicable State law and 5 U.S.C. § 5520a; and (2) Plaintiff's debt had not been discharged in bankruptcy, nor had Plaintiff filed for protection from creditors under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. (FAC ¶ 32.) Plaintiff alleges that MCT knew or should have known that the aforementioned statements were untrue. (FAC, ¶¶ 33-34.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated the FDCPA, including 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692f (prohibiting the use of unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect a debt), 1692e(5) (prohibiting debt collectors from threatening to take any action that cannot legally be taken), and 1692e(10) (the use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect a debt). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants violated the RFDCPA by violating the FDCPA.

Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.17.

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 ...


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