United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division
MARK E. ISTVAN, Plaintiff,
PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Before the court is the motion in limine (Doc. 42) filed by the Plaintiff, Mark E. Istvan. Having considered the motion, and for the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and at oral argument on the motion on June 19, 2014, the court concludes that the motion is due to be denied.
I. Facts and Procedural History
Defendant Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC (“PRA”) is a company that purchases delinquent debts from creditors and then attempts to collect those debts from the debtors. By a contract effective November 1, 2011, and which continued in effect until March 2012, PRA purchased a bundle of debts from HSBC Bank and various affiliated corporate entities. (Doc. 51-3). Among those debts, allegedly, was a debt attributed to the Plaintiff, Mark E. Istvan. Istvan contends that the debt was not his.
Istvan alleges that, in January 2013, PRA contacted him at work and at home attempting to collect the debt. On at least one occasion, according to Istvan, PRA threatened to contact Istvan’s supervisor about the debt. Istvan disputed the debt. PRA allegedly reported the debt to Experian credit bureau. (Doc. 14 ¶ 6).
On January 28, 2013, PRA filed a collection action against Istvan in the Montgomery County Circuit Court. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Mark E. Istvan, Case No. CV 2013-9000157.00, case action summary sheet. On March 4, 2013, Istvan, acting pro se, filed an answer denying that he owed the debt and requesting verification of the debt. Id., March 4, 2013 document titled “Response to Complaint.” On May 13, 2013, PRA filed a voluntary motion to dismiss the case with prejudice. Id., May 13, 2013 Motion to Dismiss. The court granted the motion on June 11, 2013. Id., June 11, 2013 Order.
On July 26, 2013, Istvan filed a complaint in this court alleging that, in pursuing the debt and filing the state court collection lawsuit, PRA violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and committed several state law torts. Istvan alleges that, as a result of the allegedly baseless state court lawsuit, he was forced to spend time and money to defend the case. (Doc. 14 ¶¶ 21-22).
On March 31, 2014, in response to a subpoena to Istvan’s bank, PRA received bank records showing that, from February 17, 2009 to February 12, 2011, Istvan made 34 separate payments on the debt. (Doc. 50 II. ¶¶ 8-9). PRA intends to introduce the records to show that Istvan owed the debt and that PRA did not improperly collect, report, or file suit on the debt. (Doc. 50 II. ¶ 9). In addition, PRA plans to introduce documents provided by the original creditor that demonstrate that Istvan owed the debt. (Doc. 50 II. ¶¶ 8-9 n.2).
On April 14, 2014, Istvan filed a “motion in limine” (Doc. 42). On April 21, 2014, the court denied the motion in limine as premature. (Doc. 44). However, upon the parties’ joint request that the motion in limine be considered on its merits, the court vacated its order denying the motion as premature, set a briefing schedule, and held oral argument on the motion. (Docs. 47, 48, 62).
A. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel
Istvan argues that, because the state court (allegedly) dismissed the collection action on the merits, the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel preclude PRA from introducing any of the following in this case:
1. evidence or argument that Istvan owed the debt;
2. evidence or argument that Istvan ever made ...