Judge Denies Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand FDCPA Case Back to State Court

A plaintiff has lost his battle to keep his lawsuit against a debt collector in state court, ruling that the plaintiff’s “explicit” allegations of violations of both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act, as well as his demand for damages under both of those statutes require that the case be heard in federal court.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Johnson v. Portfolio Recovery Associates can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff originally filed his motion in state court in New York, alleging the defendant breached an agreement to repay a debt. Along with claiming that the defendant allegedly violated state law by breaching the terms of the agreement, the plaintiff also accused the defendant of violating the FDCPA and the FTCA. The defendant then had the case removed to federal court, which is when the plaintiff sought to have the case remanded back to state court.

The plaintiff claimed to have “merely mention[ed]” federal claims in his complaint and that any violation of federal law stems from the violation of state law, and that the state law claim would stand on its own if the federal claims were not included, which might be true, noted Judge William M. Skretny of the District Court for the Western District of New York. But, in the end, the plaintiff “affirmatively alleged federal claims” which precludes removing the case to state court.

Judge Skretny then points out that the plaintiff claims to have not asked for monetary relief under federal law, which is “simply incorrect.” Writes Judge Skretny, “Along with setting out specific causes of action under federal law, and seeking equitable relief for federal violations, Johnson affirmatively seeks ‘monetary civil penalties’ for each of Portfolio’s alleged violations of the FDCPA.”

If the plaintiff chooses to move forward with his case, it will have to be in federal court.

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