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James v. Chase Bank USA

August 4, 2010

CHRIS JAMES, AN INDIVIDUAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHASE BANK USA, N.A., AND DOES 1-10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE (Doc. No. 20.)

Pending before the Court is Defendant Chase Bank USA, N.A.'s ("Chase Bank") motion to dismiss Plaintiff Chris James' ("Plaintiff") Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and to strike pursuant to Rule 12(f). (Doc. No. 20.) Plaintiff has opposed the motion. (Doc. No. 14.) The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d.1) And for the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Chase Bank's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was the owner of a Chase Bank credit card. (SAC. ¶ 7.) During an unspecified time period, prior to September 2007, Plaintiff incurred a "debt" on that credit card as that term is defined by Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.2(d). (Id. at ¶ 14.) During September 2007, Plaintiff retained the Doan Law Firm to assist him in obtaining bankruptcy protection. (Id. at ¶ 15.) And on September 27, 2007, Attorney Michael Doan sent a letter to Chase Bank on behalf of Plaintiff. (SAC. Exh A.) The letter instructed Chase Bank to "cease and desist any and all future communications" with Plaintiff in regards to his credit card debt, pursuant to California Civil Code Section 1788.17 and 15 U.S.C. Section 1692. (Id.) Instead, all future communications and correspondence were to be sent directly to the Doan Law Firm. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that, despite having received the "cease and desist" letter, Chase Bank continued to communicate with Plaintiff for seven months by sending him, for example, a letter and six billing statements. (SAC. ¶ 45, Exh B.)

On July 22, 2008, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court. (Doc. No. 1.) Chase Bank removed the case to this Court and has now moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. (Id.; Doc. No. 20.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. MOTION TO DISMISS

Rule 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss a complaint upon a finding that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). In essence, a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the complaint's sufficiency. See North Star Int'l. v. Arizona Corp. Comm'n., 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). Dismissal of a claim according to this rule is proper only in "extraordinary" cases. United States v. Redwood City, 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory, or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).

As the Supreme Court explained, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 1964--65.

However, the court must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must "construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Gompper v. VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 895 (9th Cir. 2002). Additionally, all material allegations in the complaint, "even if doubtful in fact," are assumed to be true. Id. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint and all reasonable inferences therefrom are construed in the plaintiff's favor. Walleri v. Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle, 83 F.3d 1575, 1580 (9th Cir. 1996). Nevertheless, conclusory legal allegations and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss. Ove v. Gwinn, 264 F.3d 817, 821 (9th Cir. 2001).

B. MOTION TO STRIKE

Rule 12(f) provides that a federal court may strike from the pleadings any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). The function of a motion to strike is to avoid the unnecessary expenditures that arise throughout litigation by dispensing of any spurious issues prior to trial. Sidney-Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983); Chong v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 428 F.Supp.2d 1136, 1139 (S.D. Cal. 2006). Rule 12(f) motions "are generally regarded with disfavor because of the limited importance of pleading in federal practice, and because they are often used as a delaying tactic."

Neilson v. Union Bank of Cal., N.A., 290 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1152 (C.D. Cal. 2003). Thus, courts generally grant a motion to strike only where "it is clear that the matter to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation." LeDuc v. ...


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