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Wheeler v. Premiere Credit of North America, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 14, 2015

ROBERT WHEELER, Plaintiff,
v.
PREMIERE CREDIT OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC, Defendant

For Robert Wheeler, Plaintiff: Todd M. Friedman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C., Beverly Hills, CA.

For Premiere Credit of North America, LLC, Defendant: David J Kaminski, Stephen A. Watkins, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Carlson and Messer, Los Angeles, CA.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF No. 15]

HON. GONZALO P. CURIEL, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant Premiere Credit of North America, LLC's (" Defendant" ) Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 15.) Plaintiff Robert Wheeler (" Plaintiff" ) opposes. (ECF No. 18.)

The parties have fully briefed the motion. (ECF Nos. 15, 18, 20.) The Court finds the motion suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Upon review of the moving papers, admissible evidence, and applicable law, the Court finds that the FDCPA provisions alleged by Plaintiff are not preempted and that Plaintiff has withdrawn his RFDCPA cause of action. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On June 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint in state court alleging two causes of action: (1) violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA" ), and (2) violation of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" RFDCPA" ). (ECF No. 1-1, Ex. A.) On July 26, 2013, Defendant removed this case from state court to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. (ECF No. 1.) On August 2, 2013, Defendant answered Plaintiff's complaint and alleged eleven affirmative defenses. (ECF No. 4.)

On August 15, 2014, Defendant filed this motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 15.) On October 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed an opposition to Defendant's motion. (ECF No. 18.) On October 24, 2014, Defendant filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition and a request for judicial notice. (ECF Nos. 20, 21.)

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Educational Credit Management Corporation (" ECMC" ) provides guarantor services to the United States Department of Education (" ED" ) in relation to federal student loans. (ECF No. 16 ¶ 4.) Defendant is an accounts receivable contractor authorized to perform collection activities on defaulted student loans on behalf of ECMC. (ECF No. 16 ¶ 24; ECF No. 15-1, at 5.)

On December 23, 1983, a federal student loan was taken out by someone alleging to be named Robert Wheeler. (ECF No. 16-2, Ex. B.) On October 31, 1985, final notice regarding the delinquency was sent to " Robert C Wheeler." (ECF No. 16-9, Ex. I.) Following a failure to cure the delinquency, the loan entered default and the note transferred to the guarantor, California Student Aid Commission (" CSAC" ). (ECF No. 16 ¶ 19.) On April 8, 1991, CSAC obtained a judgment on the loan. (ECF No. 16-10, Ex. J.) On September 12, 2009, the note was transferred to ECMC. (ECF No. 16-11, Ex. K.) Pursuant to the defaulted loan, ECMC initiated administrative wage garnishment actions against Plaintiff. (ECF No. 16 ¶ ¶ 25-26.)

On March 30, 2012, Defendant sent Plaintiff a notice of wage garnishment. (ECF No. 16-14, Ex. N.) On April 30, 2012, Defendant received an unsigned letter from Plaintiff requesting a hearing regarding his wage garnishment and stating: (1) that the wage garnishment would be an extreme financial hardship, and (2) that he did not owe the debt. (ECF No. 15-12, Ex. D.) On July 27, 2012, Defendant received a signed letter from Plaintiff again requesting a hearing regarding his wage garnishment and again stating that he did not owe the debt. (ECF No. 16 ¶ 35; ECF No. 15-13, Ex. E.)

On September 21, 2012, ED held a hearing and issued a final decision regarding Plaintiff's wage garnishment, finding that he had presented insufficient evidence to prove that he did not owe the debt. (ECF No. 16 ¶ 38; ECF No. 15-14, Ex. F.) On October 22, 2012, Defendant informed Plaintiff that, pursuant to the ED's decision, it would continue to collect on the debt. (ECF No. 15-15, Ex. G.)

Plaintiff alleges that he was the victim of identity theft and that he did not take out the loan at issue. (ECF No. 18-2 ¶ 5.) Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the FDCPA and RFDCPA in two primary ways: (1) collecting on a debt that Plaintiff did not owe in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692f, and (2) making false representations, including that ...


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