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Muhammad v. Reese Law Group, APC

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 27, 2017

SABRINA MUHAMMAD, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
REESE LAW GROUP, APC; and FORD MOTOR AND CREDIT COMPANY, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY'S MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. No. 15]

          HON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Sabrina Muhammad (“Plaintiff”) brings two causes of action against Defendant Reese Law Group (“Reese”) and Defendant Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC[1] (“Ford, ” collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”), and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, California Civil Code § 1788 et seq. (“Rosenthal Act”). See Complaint. On January 23, 2017, the Court granted Reese's anti- SLAPP motion, dismissing Plaintiff's Rosenthal Act claims against Reese with prejudice. Doc. No. 31. Ford now moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Doc. No. 15. Plaintiff filed an opposition to Ford's motion, to which Ford replied. See Doc. Nos. 30, 34. The Court found the matter suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. Doc. No. 36. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Ford's motion to dismiss.

         Background[2]

         Plaintiff Sabrina Muhammad is an individual residing in Orange County, California. Reese is a law firm headquartered in San Diego, California, which conducts business in the state of California. Ford is headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, and employs the services of Reese to collect alleged debts on its behalf.

         On June 16, 1997, Plaintiff leased a Ford Explorer from the Theodore Robins Ford car dealership. The car dealership assigned the motor vehicle lease to Ford Credit. Plaintiff defaulted on the debt. In June 2000, Ford's collection counsel, Reese, “filed suit against Plaintiff for the balance owed on the motor vehicle lease.” Doc. No. 15-1 at 3. On or about March 30, 2001, Ford secured a money judgment against Plaintiff in the Orange County Superior Court in the amount of $11, 674.04. Defendants did not attempt to collect any money for approximately two years. On or about July 28, 2003, Defendants obtained a Writ of Execution directing the Orange County Sheriff's Office to collect $14, 346.64 from Plaintiff.

         On or about September 30, 2003, the Orange County Sheriff's Office commenced garnishing Plaintiff's wages pursuant to an Earnings Withholding Order. On or about July 17, 2009, Defendants applied for a renewal of the money judgment entered against Plaintiff. In its application, Defendants alleged Plaintiff owed $12, 462.20. Defendants filed a “Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgment of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest” with the Orange County Superior Court attesting to Plaintiff owing $768.16 in accrued interest. Complaint ¶ 27.

         On or about November 8, 2010, Plaintiff took a leave of absence from her employment with the Internal Revenue Service due to a medical condition. Plaintiff remained on non-pay status for approximately one year. On or about November 24, 2010, Defendants ceased garnishing Plaintiff's wages in Orange County. At this time, Plaintiff allegedly owed $3, 284.00 on the money judgment.

         On or about June 3, 2011, the Orange County Sheriff's Office returned an “Execution Return - Earnings Withholding Order” to Reese, and the Orange County Superior Court, deeming the money judgment against Plaintiff to be “partially satisfied.” Complaint ¶ 31. This document certified that the Sheriff's Office collected a total of $13, 015.24 from Plaintiff. Of that amount, $11, 126.24 was allocated to the money judgment, and $1, 889.00 was paid to the Sheriff's Office for fees and expenses incurred.

         On or about November 9, 2011, Reese filed a “Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgement of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest” with the Orange County Superior Court attesting to Plaintiff owing $1, 070.48 of accrued interest, despite the fact that the money judgment had been deemed “partially satisfied.” Complaint ¶ 32. On or about June 22, 2012, Reese obtained a Writ of Execution directing the Orange County Sheriff to collect $13, 007.82 from Plaintiff.

         On or about November 30, 2015, more than five years after Defendants ceased garnishing Plaintiff's wages, Reese filed an additional “Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgement of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest” in the Orange County Superior Court, claiming Plaintiff owes $5, 887.64 of accrued interest.

         On or about December 2, 2015, Reese obtained a Writ of Execution in San Diego County, directing the San Diego County Sheriff to collect a total of $17, 024.98 from Plaintiff. Plaintiff has never resided or worked in San Diego County. The original contract between Plaintiff and Ford was executed in Orange County. On or about January 6, 2016, the San Diego County Sheriff's Office issued an Earnings Withholding Order to Plaintiff's employer, stating Plaintiff owed $17, 986.09 pursuant to the money judgment originally obtained against Plaintiff on or about March 30, 2001. On or about January 27, 2016, Plaintiff drove from Orange County to San Diego to file a “Claim for Exemption, ” contesting the amount Defendants sought to garnish from her wages. In February 2016, the San Diego County Sheriff's Office began garnishing Plaintiff's wages.

         Plaintiff asserts that despite having no ties to San Diego County, Defendants “continue to garnish Plaintiff's wages pursuant to the Earnings Withholding Order filed with the San Diego County Sheriff's Office on or about January 6, 2016.” Complaint ¶ 45. Plaintiff alleges she has taken time off of work to travel to San Diego County to “prevent Defendants from continuing to illegally garnish her wages.” Complaint ¶ 46. As a result, Plaintiff asserts she “has suffered emotional distress with manifestations including, but not limited to, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, marital discord, anxiety, and paranoia.” Complaint ¶ 47. On October 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action against Defendants alleging violations of the FDCPA and Rosenthal Act.

         Legal Standards

         A. Request for ...


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