United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the court on Defendant Professional Debt
Mediation, Inc.'s ("PDMI") Motion for Judgment
on the Pleadings (Doc. # 23) and Motion to Deposit Funds with
the Court (Doc. # 32). Plaintiff has responded to the
motions. (Docs. # 26, 36). Defendant PDMI has filed reply
briefs supporting the motions. (Docs. # 27, 39).
February 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants
PDMI and Experian Information Solutions, Inc.
("Experian"). (See generally Doc. # 1).
The complaint presents one cause of action against Experian
and sixteen causes of action against PDMI. (See Id.
at ¶¶ 60-131). According to Plaintiff, PDMI
violated both the Fair Credit Reporting Act
("FCRA") and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"). (See Id. at ¶¶
60-102). Plaintiff also alleges that PDMI committed the
following violations of Alabama state law: (1) invasion of
privacy, (2) negligent hiring, training, and supervision of
debt collectors, (3) wanton hiring, training, and supervision
of debt collectors, and (4) intentional hiring, training, and
supervision of incompetent debt collectors. (See Id.
at ¶¶ 103-31).
PDMI has moved for judgment on the pleadings for Plaintiffs
four state-law claims. (Doc. # 23 at 1). PDMI first argues
that the state-law causes of action are expressly preempted
by the FCRA. (Id. at 6-12). Next, it contends that
Plaintiffs hiring, supervision, and training tort claims fail
to state a claim for relief because those claims seek tort
damages for an action premised upon a breach of contract.
(Id. at 12-13). PDMI also has requested that the
court grant it leave to deposit $15, 000 with the court to
provide complete relief for all of Plaintiffs claims,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 67. (Doc. # 32 at
2012, Plaintiff agreed to settle a consumer debt that was
owned by Defendant PDMI and paid PDMI $2, 595. (Doc. # 1 at
¶¶ 21-23). PDMI agreed to "request manual
deletion of any negative trade lines associated" with
Plaintiff as a term of the settlement. (Id. at
¶ 24). Plaintiff later discovered that the consumer debt
account remained on his Experian credit report. (Id.
at ¶25). Plaintiff disputed his credit report, but
"Experian kept the account on Plaintiffs credit report
with a current balance owed." (Id. at ¶
alleges that PDMI admitted on March 10, 2015 that he had paid
the consumer debt indicated on his credit report.
(Id. at ¶ 29). Yet, the settled debt remained
on his credit report in June 2015. (Id. at ¶
30). According to Plaintiff, "Defendants continued to
report this negative information even with the proof from
Defendant PDM[I] showing that the account was to be
deleted." (Id. at ¶ 33). When Plaintiff
called Defendants to report the error, they refused to admit
that the settled debt account should be deleted from his
credit report. (Id. at ¶ 28).
PDMI violated the settlement agreement by continuing its
collection efforts after entering into the settlement.
(Id. at ¶ 48). It misrepresented that Plaintiff
still owed payment for the debt after he had agreed to and
complied with the settlement. (Id. at ¶ 49).
Plaintiffs complaint charges that PDMI "maliciously,
willfully, intentionally, recklessly, and/or
negligently" failed to review his disputes or reasonably
investigate those disputes. (Id. at ¶ 35).
According to Plaintiff, PDMI acted maliciously and willfully
and conducted its actions "with either the desire to
harm Plaintiff and/or with the knowledge that its actions
would very likely harm Plaintiff" (Mat¶59).
claims that PDMI invaded his privacy, in violation of Alabama
law, "by repeatedly and unlawfully attempting to collect
a debt." (Id. at ¶ 106). Moreover, he
claims that the company negligently, wantonly, and/or
intentionally hired, trained, and supervised debt collectors
"who were allowed or encouraged to violate the
law." (Id. at ¶¶ 118, 124, 130).
Plaintiffs complaint categorizes PDMI as a
"furnisher" of information to credit reporting
agencies for purposes of the FCRA and as a "debt
collector" for purposes of the FDCPA. (Id. at
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that a party may move
for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed,
but early enough not to delay trial. The standard is a
familiar one. "Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate
where there are no material facts in dispute and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Cannon v. City of W. Palm Beach, 250 F.3d 1299, 1301
(11th Cir. 2001); see Bank of New York Mellon v.
Estrada, 2013 WL 3811999, at *1 (N.D. 111. July 22,
2013) ("A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the
pleadings is 'designed to provide a means of disposing of
cases when the material facts are not in dispute and a
judgment on the merits can be achieved by focusing on the
content of the pleadings and any facts of which the court
will take judicial notice.'" (citations omitted)).
The court must accept the facts alleged in the complaint as
true and view them in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Cannon, 250 F.3d at 1301.
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is analyzed the
same as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Griffin v.
SunTrust Bank, Inc., 157 F.Supp.3d 1294, 1295 (N.D.Ga.
2015). Accordingly, to survive a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation and internal quotations
omitted); see also Losey v. Warden, 521 F.App'x
717, 719 (11th Cir. 2013) (applying the plausibility standard
articulated in Iqbal to an appeal concerning a Rule
12(c) judgment on the pleadings).
complaint states a plausible claim for relief "when [a]
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. Although detailed facts are not needed, a plaintiff is
obligated to provide as grounds for entitlement to relief
more than mere labels and conclusions. Id. Formulaic
recitations of the elements of a cause of action do not
satisfy a plaintiffs burden. Id. "While legal
conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations." Id.
at 679. A plausible claim for relief requires "enough