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Thomas v. Navient Solutions, Inc.

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

June 27, 2018

SHAUN THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS [7, 9] AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT

          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Shaun Thomas brought suit after Defendants tried to collect a debt from him and his wife. The complaint alleges one count of invasion of privacy and counts under two federal laws: the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). Two of the Defendants move to dismiss the complaint; one for failing to state a claim and the other for failure to properly serve. The Court has reviewed the filings and finds that a hearing is unnecessary. For the reasons below, the Court will grant the motions and dismiss the complaint.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Defendants are three interrelated corporations. At the top is Navient Corporation, a loan management company in the business of collecting and servicing debt. ECF 1, PgID 2. Navient Corporation is the sole owner of the other two Defendants: Navient Solutions, Inc. and Student Assistance Corporation. For convenience, the Court will refer to the parent company as "Navient" and the subsidiaries as "Solutions" and "Student," respectively. Solutions focuses on servicing student loans, while Student collects outstanding and delinquent student debt. Id. at 3-4.

         On July 9, 2016, Student called Thomas about a loan he allegedly owed to Solutions. Thomas, however, told the caller that he did not have a loan with Solutions and requested proof of the loan. The Complaint does not say how the call ended, but Student did call Thomas four more times that month and told him that "there would be a civil suit filed in relation to the debt." Id. at 5. At some point, Student also spoke with Thomas's wife over the phone. In light of the communications, Thomas filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and to which the Bureau assigned case No. 160715-002181. Id.

         Thomas filed suit a year later, on July 7, 2017. The Court issued summonses for Navient and Student on July 11, but because Thomas's attorney made a docketing error, the Court did not issue the summons for Solutions until October 2, 2017. On October 4, Thomas's attorney sent the summonses and complaint via U.S. Priority Mail to addresses in East Lansing, Michigan and Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. ECF 12, PgID 73-74. The Post Office confirmed that it delivered the mail to both addresses that same day. Id. "J. Capiece"[2] signed for the Pennsylvania mail, and "A. Parsons" signed for the Michigan mail. Id.

         Defendants filed the instant motions later that month. On November 20, 2017, Thomas filed a certificate of service concerning the mailing of the summonses and complaints, but he failed to file a response to the motions until January 17, 2018, several months after the deadline set by Local Rule 7.1(e)(1)(B).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b), a party may move to dismiss a complaint for insufficient process (12(b)(4)) or insufficient service of process (12(b)(5)). The serving party bears the burden of establishing the validity of service. Metro. Alloys Corp. v. State Metals Indus., Inc., 416 F.Supp.2d 561, 563 (E.D. Mich. 2006). When reviewing 12(b)(4) and 12(b)(5) motions, the Court "may refer to record evidence" and facts in "uncontroverted affidavits." Id.

         In contrast, when the Court reviews a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), it generally looks only to the complaint itself. The Court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, presumes the truth of all well-pled factual assertions, and draws every reasonable inference in favor of the non-moving party. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008). The Court must grant the motion if the complaint fails to allege facts "sufficient 'to raise a right to relief above the speculative level,' and to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). If "a cause of action fails as a matter of law, regardless of whether the plaintiff's factual allegations are true or not," then the Court must dismiss. Winnett v. Caterpillar, Inc., 553 F.3d 1000, 1005 (6th Cir. 2009).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Service of Process

         Student moves to dismiss the complaint on service grounds pursuant to Rule 12(b)(4) and 12(b)(5). Student asserts that service by certified mail was improper and thus invalid and further asserts that the service was untimely. Thomas's response merely recites the dates and methods of service and concludes that there "is ...


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