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Turnbull v. O'Reilly Rancilio P.C.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 13, 2017

ROBERT A. TURNBULL, Plaintiff,
v.
O'REILLY RANCILIO P.C., Defendant.

          Gershwin A. Drain District Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

          MONA K. MAJZOUB, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint. (Docket no. 17.) Defendant opposes Plaintiff's request, contending that the proposed amended complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Docket no. 19.)

         With consent of the Parties, this case has been referred to the undersigned for all proceedings in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. (Docket no. 11.) The Court has reviewed the pleadings and determined that the Motion will be resolved without oral argument pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2).

         For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint fails to state a viable claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and the Court must deny Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter arises from Defendant's efforts to collect on a student loan debt. Plaintiff filed a two-count complaint alleging that Defendant violated the FDCPA by (1) suing Plaintiff in a judicial district in which Plaintiff did not reside at the time of the commencement of the action and by (2) asserting that it had the right to garnish Plaintiff's wages on the basis of the allegedly defective underlying judgment. (Docket no. 1.) Plaintiff also contended that Defendant's actions violated Michigan law. (Id.)

         Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56(c). (Docket no. 8.) In support of its motion, Defendant contended that any violation of the FDCPA was the result of a “bona-fide error, ” for which a debt collector may not be held liable. (Docket no. 8, pp. 8-9 (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1692(k)).) Plaintiff contested Defendant's assertion of the bona-fide error defense, and, within his responsive pleading, sought leave to file an amended complaint in order to add “additional plausible claims that are not futile, ” including that the garnishment efforts undertaken by Defendant violated the venue provision of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692i. (Docket no. 13, pp. 8-9, 23-24.)

         The Court partially granted Defendant's motion, dismissing Plaintiff's FDCPA claims on the basis that Defendant had at most committed a bona-fide error. (Docket no. 16.) However, the Court observed that Plaintiff's proposed amended claims based on the garnishment proceedings might be viable. (Id. at p. 11.) Accordingly, the Court permitted Plaintiff to file a procedurally proper motion for leave to amend. (Id.) The Court further indicated that if Plaintiff failed to add a valid federal claim, the Court would decline to exercise jurisdiction over the state-law claims and dismiss the entire matter. (Id. at p. 13.)

         On April 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed his motion for leave to amend (docket no. 17), asserting that the proposed amended pleading would state an FDCPA claim that would not be subject to the same basis for dismissal of his originally-pleaded claims. Defendant contends that the proposed amended complaint would remain subject to dismissal as a matter of law, and on that basis opposes Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. (Docket no. 19.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Such leave should be granted in the absence of undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of the amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962).

         III. ANALYSIS

         As described above, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's FDCPA claim as originally pleaded, but permitted Plaintiff to file a motion for leave to amend in order to address whether Defendant's garnishment efforts could give rise to a viable FDCPA claim. Because Defendant opposes Plaintiff's request, the Court must determine whether justice requires granting leave to amend. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). In determining whether “justice so requires, ” the Court will look to “the substance of the proposed amendment.” Roskam Baking Co., Inc. v. Lanham Machinery Co., Inc., 288 F.3d 895, 906 (6th Cir. 2002) (citation ...


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