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Hakob Ayvazian v. the Moore Law Group

July 3, 2012

HAKOB AYVAZIAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE MOORE LAW GROUP, A CALIFORNIA COMPANY; NELSON & KENNARD, A PROFESSIONAL COMPANY; ENCORE RECEIVABLE MANAGEMENT, INC., A KANSAS CORPORATION; REDLINE RECOVERY SERVICES, LLC, A NEW YORK LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; ASSET ACCEPTANCE, LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [14]

I.INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant The Moore Law Group's ("TMLG") renewed Motion for Summary Judgment as to the entirety of Plaintiff Hakob Ayvazian's Complaint. (ECF No. 14.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS TMLG's Motion.*fn1

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Hakob Ayvazian complains that on or about March 24 or 25, 2011, Defendant TMLG impermissibly ran Plaintiff's credit report. (Compl. 8.) Plaintiff's Complaint alleges six claims as a result of this contention: (1) violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"); (2) violation of the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("Rosenthal Act"); (3) violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"); (4) violation of California's Consumer Credit Reporting Agency Act ("CCRAA"); (5) libel per se; and (6) invasion of privacy/false light. (ECF No. 3.)

TMLG moves for summary judgment on all six of Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 14.) TMLG maintains that it is a law firm and therefore exempt from liability under the Rosenthal Act. (SUF ¶ 2; Moore Decl. ¶ 3.) TMLG avers that it acted in full compliance with California and federal credit reporting and debt collection statutes when it viewed Plaintiff's credit report a single time, on March 25, 2011. (SUF ¶ 3; Moore Decl. ¶ 4.) TMLG further contends that it properly sent Plaintiff an initial demand letter on April 27, 2012, which provided Plaintiff full notice of the debt TMLG sought to collect and informed him of his right to request verification or validation of the debt within 30 days. (SUF ¶ 7; Moore Decl. ¶ 7; Ex. 1.)

TMLG filed its Motion for Summary Judgment on May 17, 2012. (ECF No. 14.) On June 11, 2012, Plaintiff*fn2 attempted to file a consolidated Opposition and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, which the Court ordered stricken for failure to lodge a statement of genuine issues of material fact with Plaintiff's Opposition in violation of Local Rule 56-2 and for failure to file a statement of undisputed facts and conclusions of law with Plaintiff's cross-motion in violation of Local Rule 56-1. (ECF Nos. 28, 30.) Plaintiff subsequently refiled his consolidated Opposition and Cross-Motion on June 27, 2012. (ECF No. 39.) While Plaintiff did file the necessary statements of genuine issues of material fact and uncontroverted facts with this refiling, the Court nevertheless struck Plaintiff's Opposition and Cross-Motion again, this time for failure to schedule the hearing on Plaintiff's Cross-Motion at least 28 days after the date the Cross-Motion was filed. (ECF No. 43.) Because Plaintiff's Opposition was filed within the same document as the Cross-Motion, Plaintiff's Opposition has been stricken as well. As a result of Plaintiff's repeated failures to comply with the Local Rules, TMLG's Motion stands unopposed. In spite of these deficiencies, however, the Court moves forward to assess the merits of the Motion for Summary Judgment.

III.LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment should be granted if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323--24 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and identify specific facts through admissible evidence that show a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Conclusory or speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment. Thornhill's Publ'g Co. v. GTE Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 738 (9th Cir. 1979).

A genuine issue of material fact must be more than a scintilla of evidence, or evidence that is merely colorable or not significantly probative. Addisu v. Fred Meyer, 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). A disputed fact is "material" where the resolution of that fact might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1968). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. Where the moving and nonmoving parties' versions of events differ, courts are required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).

IV.DISCUSSION

The Moore Law Group moves for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's entire complaint. The Court will consider each claim in turn.

A.First and Second Claim for Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Plaintiff alleges that TLMG has failed to follow notification requirements under the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(11), and the Rosenthal Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1788.17, 1788.30. (Compl. 11--12.)*fn3 TMLG, however, states that the April 27, 2012 demand letter it sent Plaintiff satisfied all disclosure and notice criteria in the FDCPA, and that TMLG is exempt from liability under the Rosenthal Act. (SUF ¶¶ 7,9; Moore Decl. Ex. 1; Mot. 14--15.)

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from employing unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt. § 1692(f). A "debt collector" under the FDCPA is any person or entity with the principal purpose of collecting of any debts, "or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another." 15 U.S.C. § ...


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