Sanchez v. Law Office of Lance E. Armo, et al.

Filing 26

ORDER ADOPTING 24 Findings and Recommendations, signed by District Judge Dale A. Drozd on 06/04/2021. (Maldonado, C)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 ANGELA SANCHEZ, 10 Plaintiff, 11 12 13 v. No. 1:20-cv-00163-NONE-SKO ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (Doc. No. 24) LAW OFFICE OF LANCE E. ARMO and LANCE E. ARMO, 14 Defendants. 15 16 On January 31, 2021, Plaintiff Angela Sanchez filed a complaint against Defendants Law 17 18 Office of Lance E. Armo and Lance E. Armo, alleging that defendants violated the Fair Debt 19 Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1682 et seq. and the California Unfair 20 Competition Law (“UCL”), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. (Doc. 1.) Among other 21 things, the complaint alleges defendants, a law firm engaged in debt collection, unlawfully 22 pursued unlawful detainer actions against plaintiff even though plaintiff was not in arrears on her 23 rent. (Id.) On February 25, 2020, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to 24 25 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), along with a motion to strike plaintiff’s state law claims 26 as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (“SLAPP”) under California Code of Civil 27 Procedure § 425.16. (Doc. No. 8.) The motion to dismiss and strike was referred to the assigned 28 ///// 1 magistrate judge for the issuance of findings and recommendations on January 26, 2021. (Doc. No. 2 23.) 3 On March 31, 2021, the assigned magistrate judge issued findings and recommendations 4 recommending that defendants’ motion to dismiss and strike be granted in part and denied in part. 5 (Doc. No. 24.) Specifically, the magistrate judge recommended the motion to dismiss be granted 6 to the extent plaintiff’s FDCPA and UCL claims rely upon an asserted violation of 15 U.S.C. § 7 1692d, which requires allegations of harassing conduct that are not set forth in plaintiff’s 8 complaint. (Id. at 12.) The findings and recommendations also recommended that the anti- 9 SLAPP motion to strike be granted with respect to any claim premised upon § 1692d. (Id. at 23– 10 24.) The magistrate judge also recommended that plaintiff be granted leave to amend her § 1692d 11 claim and further recommended that defendants’ motion to dismiss and strike be denied in all 12 other respects as to all other theories of liability. (See generally id.) Finally, the magistrate judge 13 recommended that defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees in connection with their anti-SLAPP 14 motion to strike be denied, finding that such an award would be inappropriate given that any 15 victory won by defendants at this stage of the litigation was purely “technical” because the 16 granting of leave to amend plaintiff’s § 1629d claim was being recommended. See Brown v. Elec. 17 Arts, Inc., 722 F. Supp. 2d 1148, 1155 (C.D. Cal. 2010). The findings and recommendations 18 contained notice that any objections thereto were due within twenty-one days. (See id.) No 19 objections have been filed and the time to do so has passed. 20 In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this court has conducted a 21 de novo review of the case. Having carefully reviewed the entire file, the court finds that the 22 findings and recommendations are supported by the record and proper analysis. 23 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 24 1. 25 26 The findings and recommendations issued March 31, 2021 (Doc. No. 24) are adopted in full; and 2. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 8) is GRANTED IN PART and 27 DENIED IN PART as follows: 28 a. Defendant’s motion to dismiss the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act 2 1 (“FDCPA”) and the California Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) claims 2 based on a violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d is GRANTED with LEAVE TO 3 AMEND within twenty-one (21) days; 4 b. 5 Defendant’s motion to dismiss the remainder of the FDCPA and UCL claims is DENIED; 6 c. Defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the UCL claim based on a 7 violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d is GRANTED with LEAVE TO AMEND 8 within twenty-one (21) days; 9 d. 10 Defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the remainder of the UCL claims is DENIED; and 11 e. Defendants’ request for an award of attorney’s fees is DENIED. 12 13 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 4, 2021 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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