A District Court judge in North Carolina has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling that the plaintiff failed to state a claim after accusing the defendant of violating the statute by sending a collection summons and complaint to an incorrect address, obtaining a default judgment, and garnishing the plaintiff’s wages.
The Background: Back in July 2018, the plaintiff moved from Mississippi to North Carolina. Three months later, the defendant filed a collection lawsuit against the plaintiff in Mississippi. The plaintiff claims never to have lived at or visited the address that the lawsuit was served at. The defendant obtained a default judgment and subsequently garnished her wages. Because the plaintiff’s supervisor was informed about the garnishment, the plaintiff claims to have been humiliated.
- The plaintiff filed her lawsuit in 2021, and the case was stayed pending the outcome the plaintiff’s appeal of the default judgment. When the default judgment was set aside, the stay was lifted.
The Ruling: The plaintiff’s claim that the defendant violated Section 1692e(8) of the FDCPA by communicating information that was known to be false does not hold water because at the time that the plaintiff’s employer was informed of the garnishment, there was a valid judgment, noted Judge Kenneth D. Ball of the District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
- Likewise, the plaintiff can’t claim the defendant violated Section 1692f of the FDCPA by engaging in unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt because the court can’t challenge the validity of the judgment, Judge Ball ruled. The plaintiff also failed to mention in her complaint where her correct address was at the time the lawsuit was served.
- “Without any other allegations or information, the Court cannot find this allegation plausible because it is just as likely the service was given at the house next door to Plaintiff’s former residence as it is that it was given multiple counties from where she lived,” Judge Ball wrote. “Paxton could have accidentally provided the served address in the contract that created the debt or the creditor, Credit One Bank, could have given Defendants the wrong information. Several of these fact patterns could raise the bona fide error defense and so the Court cannot find this allegation is plausibly alleged with so little factual information in Plaintiff’s pleading.”