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Jones-Bell v. Dynamic Recovery Solutions, LLC

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

September 30, 2019

NATASHA JONES-BELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiff,
v.
DYNAMIC RECOVERY SOLUTIONS, LLC, CF MEDICAL, LLC, AND JOHN DOES 1-25, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS

          TERRENCE G. BERG United States District Judge

         The matter before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 14.

         I. Background

         On November 20, 2018, Plaintiff Natasha Jones-Bell initiated this action by filing the Complaint. Complaint, ECF No. 1. The allegations in the Complaint stem from a December 7, 2017 debt collection letter sent by Defendant Dynamic Recovery Solutions, LLC (“Dynamic Recovery”) on behalf of Defendant CF Medical. Id. ¶ 30. The December 7, 2017 debt collection letter was sent by the Defendants in an effort to collect on an outstanding $434.00 debt Plaintiff owed to Defendant CF Medical for emergency medical care services. Id. ¶¶ 23–24.

         In the letter, Plaintiff was offered three settlement options. Each option provided Plaintiff with a mechanism for settling her debt for less than the $434.00 she owed. Id. ¶ 32. The third option is at issue in this case. The third option provided:

You may resolve your account for $282.10 in 4 payments starting on January 21, 2018. To comply with this offer, payments should be no more than 30 days apart. We are not obligated to renew this offer. Upon receipt and clearance of these four payments of $70.53, this account will be considered satisfied and closed, and a satisfaction letter will be issued

Compl., Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.13.

         Plaintiff alleges that the third option is “confusing and misleading” because the sum of four payments of $70.53 equals $282.12-not the advertised full payment amount of $282.10. Id. ¶¶ 33–36. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants’ debt collection letter was “unfair and unconscionable” and contained “false and misleading representations . . . which deceptively attempted to collect more than the amount of the offer” in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e, 1692e(2), 1692e(10), 1692f. Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 48, 52. Plaintiff brings her FDCPA claim on behalf of herself and a putative class. Id. ¶ 14.

         II. Contentions

         Defendants contend that Plaintiff both lacks standing to bring this action and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. With respect to standing, Defendants contend that Plaintiff has failed to allege that she suffered a concrete injury because being able to settle her debt for less than she owed was a benefit and not an injury. Further, Defendants argue that she did not suffer any harm because she “does not allege she made any payment as a result of receiving the Letter, nor does she allege that she would have made a payment if the payments in the claimed violative settlement installment payment plan equaled the total amount of the offer.” ECF No. 14-1, PageID.53.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants’ “false letter” constitutes an “in informational injury” sufficiently concrete to confer Article III standing upon Plaintiff. ECF No. 15, PageID.69. Plaintiff argues that the informational injury she suffered-the $.02 difference between the advertised settlement amount and the sum of the four required payments-was concrete because it “placed [Plaintiff] at a materially greater risk of falling victim to abusive debt collection practices.” Id. at PageID.77.

         Defendants further assert that even if Plaintiff were to have standing to bring her claim, Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted under the FDCPA. Defendants state that the $.02 difference between the offer and the sum of four payments of $70.53 is the result of a rounding error caused by the fact that $282.10 cannot be evenly divided by four and the accounting software Defendants’ use rounded up to the nearest cent. ECF No. 14-1, PageID. 13. Defendants contend that even under a least sophisticated consumer standard, Defendants’ misstatement would not have misled or confused the least sophisticated consumer when deciding whether to pay or challenge the debt. Id. at PageID.63.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants’ collection letter was a “deliberate attempt by Defendants to deceptively entice [Plaintiff] to accept what appears to be one specific amount when, in truth, she would be paying more than the amount Defendants’ purportedly proposed in their Letter.” ECF No. 15, PageID.78. Plaintiff argues that even if the $.02 at issue in Plaintiff’s case is de minimis, this Court should consider the aggregate impact of small misstatements made to a class of debtors. Id. at PageID.80.

         III. ...


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