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Calhoun v. Sentry Credit, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 11, 2019

ANN CALHOUN, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Beverly Calhoun, Plaintiff,
v.
SENTRY CREDIT, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ann Calhoun, as personal representative of the estate of Beverly Calhoun, alleges that defendant Sentry Credit violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act's prohibition against third-party communications by calling her about her daughter's consumer debt. (Doc. 22).[1] On behalf of her daughter, Ms. Calhoun asserts claims under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692b and 1692c(b). (Doc. 22, pp. 1, 4). Sentry Credit has moved to dismiss Ms. Calhoun's claims under §§ 1692b and 1692c(b), (Docs. 23, 30), and Ms. Calhoun seeks partial summary judgment on her claim under § 1692b (Doc. 29). For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses Ms. Calhoun's claim under § 1692b and denies Sentry Credit's motion to dismiss Ms. Calhoun's claim under § 1692c(b).

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint against the “liberal pleading standards set forth by Rule 8(a)(2).” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “To survive a motion to dismiss, 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) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, (2007)); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (Rule 8 generally does not require “detailed factual allegations.”).

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must view the allegations in a complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007). A court must accept well-pleaded facts as true. Grossman v. Nationsbank, N.A., 225 F.3d 1228, 1231 (11th Cir. 2000). In other words, “[o]n a motion to dismiss, the facts stated in the . . . complaint and all reasonable inferences therefrom are taken as true.” Bickley v. Caremark RX, Inc., 461 F.3d 1325, 1328 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing Stephens v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 901 F.2d 1571, 1573 (11th Cir. 1990)). Nevertheless, on a motion to dismiss, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

         Pursuant to this standard, the Court describes the facts alleged in the second amended complaint in the light most favorable to Ms. Calhoun.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Sentry Credit, Inc. is a debt collector subject to the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Doc. 22, p. 2, ¶ 3). On January 16, 2018, Sentry Credit sent a collection letter to Beverly Calhoun for a $12, 502.92 debt that she incurred relating to her purchase of a vehicle. (Doc. 22, p. 3, ¶¶ 7-9). Three days later, Sentry Credit called Beverly Calhoun's home and left a message asking her to contact Barbara Brown, a representative of Sentry Credit. (Doc. 22, p. 3, ¶ 10). Beverly Calhoun returned Ms. Brown's call and informed Ms. Brown that she was bed-ridden and would contact her after she recovered. (Doc. 22, p. 3, ¶ 11). Beverly Calhoun provided Ms. Brown with a return phone number. (Doc. 22, p. 3- 4, ¶ 11). After not hearing from Beverly Calhoun for three days, Ms. Brown called Beverly Calhoun and left a message. (Doc. 22, p. 4, ¶ 12).

         On January 30, 2018, Ms. Brown called Beverly's mother. Ms. Brown's conversation with Ms. Calhoun proceeded as follows:

Answerer Hello
Caller: Hi. Beverly?
Answerer: No.
Caller: Can I speak with Beverly please?
Answerer: You must have the wrong ...

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