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Bos v. Grissom

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 9, 2019

TAMARA L. BOS, Plaintiff,
v.
TAMMY GRISSOM, et. al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          DENNIS M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil action alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. All Defendants have been served. Pending before the court is Defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 11).

         I. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) Tammy Grissom;[1] (2) United States Department of the Treasury Offset; (3) Sonja Hubbard; (4) Carla Donaldson; (5) Christie Lewis (Lovell); and (6) United States Small Business Administration (“SBA”). Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in their attempt to collect a debt related to a $5, 000 SBA micro-loan. Plaintiff's claim is based on a series of actions by the Defendants and conversations between her and the Defendants. Plaintiff claims Defendants violated the FDCPA by engaging in unpleasant conversations with her, resulting in emotional and physical distress. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts Defendants violated the FDCPA by imposing a $50 offset to her monthly Social Security benefit check to pay for her delinquent SBA micro-loan. Initially, the offset was 15% of Plaintiff's monthly Social Security benefit check, which amounted to $202.20 deducted in March 2014. By April 2014, the offset was reduced to $50 monthly to accommodate Plaintiff's financial hardship. Plaintiff alleges, generally, Defendants garnishment of the initial $202.20 “caused Plaintiff to suffer anxiety attacks, nausea, and nightmare, where she was hysterical, ” and “these same illnesses, pain and distress, Plaintiff continually endures today.” Plaintiff also contends the Defendants, generally, committed “elder financial abuse” by intentionally waiting until she turned sixty-five so that her Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) switched to Social Security “standard retirement, ” in which garnishment is legally available.

         Plaintiff's allegations against each named defendants are summarized below.

         Tammy Grissom - Plaintiff states Defendant Grissom, who is Robert Hairston's[2]supervisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, faxed Plaintiff's “most personal, and private, papers” to Defendant Christie Lewis (Lovell), despite Robert Hairston guaranteeing Plaintiff he would be the only one to view them. Plaintiff alleges this shows Defendant Grissom and Defendant Lewis both “blatantly violated debt collection laws” because their actions amount to the “‘non-routine use' of Plaintiff's most private and personal papers.”

         Additionally, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Grissom lied by telling Plaintiff the Treasury does not have financial hardship waivers. Plaintiff states this lie caused her to “suffer emotionally which affected her physical being” and that the lie “violates debt collection laws” related to “Plaintiff's privacy.” Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Grissom, with “her voice sinister and foreboding, ” told Plaintiff to cease contact with Robert Hairston. Plaintiff states this is a violation of debt collection laws because “you cannot harass or threaten the person you are trying to collect a debt from.”

         Lastly, Plaintiff alleges in a “bullying” voice, that victimized Plaintiff, Defendant Grissom “blatantly violated debt collection laws” by telling Plaintiff despite her inability to pay, she will pay anyway.

         Christie Lewis (Lovell) - Plaintiff alleges Defendant Lewis received Plaintiff's “most personal, and private, papers, ” meant only for Robert Hairston, in a fax from Defendant Grissom, which violates “debt collection laws, ” because their actions amount to the “‘non-routine use' of Plaintiff's most private and personal papers.” Plaintiff also alleges Defendant Lewis stated, during a phone conversation, she would send Plaintiff paperwork to fill out and return, but Plaintiff never received the papers.

         Next, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Lewis stated she had no knowledge of Plaintiff's “Administrative Resolution Approval.” Plaintiff alleges records contradict that statement and thus, Defendant Lewis violated debt collection laws.

         Further, Plaintiff contends Defendant Lewis violated the FDCPA when she informed Plaintiff that Edward Kelm[3] misspoke in stating Plaintiff's “Administrative Resolution Approval” was granted. Plaintiff states that Defendant Lewis changed Edward Kelm's testimony, which is witness tampering.

         Lastly, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Lewis lied to her by stating her agency does not offer financial hardship waivers. Plaintiff states the alleged lie caused her to “suffer emotionally which affected her physical being” and “violates debt collection laws of plaintiff's privacy.”

         Sonja Hubbard - Plaintiff alleges in a phone call, Defendant Hubbard “vocalized vicious, cruel, comments to Plaintiff” when Hubbard stated, “[my] [] Father was a veteran, and he pays his bills.” Plaintiff asserts Defendant Hubbard's comment was “vile, repulsive, despicable, ” “glaringly offensive, ” and a “direct violation of debt collection laws, where debt collectors may not shame, harass, or threaten a person.”

         In Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff states she “had two Veterans, both deceased, in her family, who served the United States of America with honor, and distinction, one Plaintiff's brother, and second, Plaintiff's Uncle, ” but does not contend Defendant Hubbard knew this or that Defendant Hubbard made any direct statement regarding Plaintiff's deceased veteran relatives. ECF No. 15, at 5. There is no indication Defendant Hubbard made the comment with malicious intent. Further, these factual allegations appear nowhere in the complaint.

         Carla Donaldson - Plaintiff alleges in a phone call that Defendant Donaldson “shocked” Plaintiff by telling her to send Defendant Donaldson the same private papers, discussed above, that were originally only sent to Robert Hairston. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Donaldson “verbally bullied” her into emailing those private papers.

         Further, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Donaldson “verbally browbeat Plaintiff into submitting a second request for a financial hardship waiver.” Plaintiff also alleges Defendant Donaldson “continued her verbal bludgeoning” when she told Plaintiff the “Administrative Resolution Approval” was nonexistent. Plaintiff states this constituted emotional abuse, which indirectly lead to physical harm to Plaintiff. Plaintiff states Defendant Donaldson's “lying, deceiving, harassment of Plaintiff” caused anxiety, stress, and violated debt collection laws.

         Lastly, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Donaldson “continued her injurious statements” by saying she would decide what Plaintiff could afford in monthly payments on the delinquent loan. Plaintiff contends that statement constitutes unconscionable debt collection violations and “elder financial abuse.”

         U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) - Plaintiff alleges she received a text message from the SBA that was a “solicitation of business loan funds.” Plaintiff stated she considers the text message harassment and it “caused her substantial psychological harm, bringing Plaintiff to tears.” In Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition, Plaintiff asserts the text message from the SBA she received on January 15, 2018, stated, “Progressive Funds: SBA Dept. Still has your 250k Unsecured Business Line of Credit read. Call 888-479-2838 or visit pbfSBA.com or Reply Stop to Cancel.” ECF No. 17, at 4. In Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff specifically argues Defendant SBA is liable for “employees violating Plaintiff's debt collection rights, which Plaintiff suffers from currently today.” ECF No. 15, at 7. These factual allegations are not present in the complaint.

         U.S. Department of the Treasury Offset - Plaintiff does not allege any facts in the complaint specifically identifying any acts by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Offset that violated the FDCPA. However, in Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff specifically argues Defendant U.S. Department of the Treasury Offset is liable for allowing “Plaintiff to be harassed, a clear violation of debt collection laws.” ECF No. 15, at 7. Additionally, Plaintiff specifically asserts in her Opposition that Defendant U.S. Department of the Treasury Offset “allowed their employee, Defendant Grissom to threaten Plaintiff, ” when she stated “‘do not contact' [] Robert Hairston, ” Plaintiff's alleged witness. Id.

         Aside from these specific claims referencing specific Defendants, Plaintiff refers generally to “all defendants” and ...


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