GARCIA v. MIDLAND FUNDING LLC
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 1/17/17. (cm )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT Of NEW JERSEY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-5248 (JLL)
MIDLAND FUNDING LLC,
LINARES, District Judge
The plaintiff, Brenda Garcia, brought this action to recover damages for an alleged
violation of the fair Debt Collection Practices Act (hereinafter, fDCPA”) by the
defendant, Midland Funding LLC (hereinafter, MFLLC”). (See dkt. 1.)’ MFLLC now
moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (hereinafter,
Ru1e”) 12(b)(6). (See dkt. 4 through dkt. 4-3; dkt. 12.) Garcia opposes the motion.
(See dkt. 9; dkt. 9-1.)
The Court will resolve the motion upon a review of the papers and without oral
argument. See L.Civ.R. 78.1(b). The Court presumes the familiarity of the parties with
the factual context and procedural history of the action. The Court will grant the motion
for the following reasons.
The Court will refer to documents by the docket entry numbers and the page
numbers imposed by the Electronic Case filing System.
Garcia incurred a debt that MFLLC acquired by assignment. (See dkt. 1 at 3; dkt.
4-1 at 6; dkt. 4-2 at 7.) MFLLC then brought an action in New Jersey state court to
collect on the debt. See No. DC-15-9378 (N.J. Superior Court, Hudson County). A
default judgment was entered against Garcia in that state action in December 2015. Id.
According to Garcia, MFLLC ran afoul of the FDCPA when it ‘dernanded
attorney’s fees when it is not entitled to the same” in the collection lawsuit brought
against her in state court. (Dkt. 1 at 3; see dkt. 4-2 at 3 (setting forth the Wherefore
Clause in the complaint in the underlying state collection lawsuit wherein MFLLC
attorneys’ fees”).) Garcia further alleges that MFLLC ‘is neither permitted
by law or by contract to attorney’s fees from Garcia,” and thus MFLLC ‘unlawful1y
dernand[ed] attorney’s fees.” (Dkt. 1 at 3—4; see also id. at 5 (stating that MfLLC’s
inclusion of a claim for attorney’s fees in the collection lawsuit “is not expressly
authorized by New Jersey law”).)
It is not necessary for the Court to restate the standard for resolving a motion made
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss a complaint, because that standard has been already
enunciated. See Mariotti v. Mariotti Bldg. Prods., Inc., 714 f.3d 761, 764—65 (3d Cir.
2013) (setting forth the standard; citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007)); fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 57$ F.3d 203, 209—12 (3d Cir. 2009) (setting forth
the standard; citing Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)).
MFLLC argues in support of its motion to dismiss that its claim for attorney’s fees
in the underlying collection lawsuit was: (1) permissible pursuant to a New Jersey statute
that requires the clerk of the New Jersey state court to add such fees to an award if the
party bringing the lawsuit prevails; and (2) not in excess of the percentage set by New
Jersey law. (See dkt. 4-1 at 5—6.) See N.J.S.A. 22A:2-42 (stating that the state court
clerk will “tax
in the costs against the judgment debtor, a fee to the attorney of the
prevailing party” at a particular rate).
Garcia argues in opposition that this Court should follow case law addressing the
laws of states other than New Jersey that do not provide for a demand of attorney’s fees
in a collection lawsuit. (See generally dkt. 9.) Furthermore, Garcia argues that MFLLC
violated the FDCPA by failing to explicitly notify her of the exact amount that it was
seeking for attorney’s fees in the state collection lawsuit.
(Iii.. at 7.)
Garcia’s arguments are not persuasive, and MFLLC’s motion is granted. First, a
district court within the District of New Jersey has previously determined that a debt
collector does not run afoul of the FDCPA when it asserts a claim for attorney’s fees in a
debt collection lawsuit in a New Jersey state court, because such a claim is legally
permitted under N.J.S.A. 22A:2-42. See Scioli v. Goldman & Warshaw P.C., 651
F.Supp.2d 273, 277—80 (D.N.J. 2009) (citing Bancredit, Inc. v. Bethea, 168 A.2d 250
(N.J. App. Div. 1961)). Indeed, the holding in Scioli has been cited with approval by the
New Jersey Appellate Division when it was called upon to determine whether attorney’s
fees are recoverable in debt collection cases that are brought in the New Jersey state
courts. See Chase Bank USA. NA. v. Staffenberg, 17 A.3d 239, 255 (N.J. App. Div.
2011) (expressly agreeing with the holding in Scioli because it ‘cornports with” New
Second, MFLLC was not required to assert the exact amount of the attorney’s fees
that it sought in the state collection lawsuit. The FDCPA simply does not require a debt
collector to itemize the attorney’s fees that are sought
See Scioli, 651 f.Supp.2d at 281, n.15.
Therefore, the Court finds that the demand by MFLLC for attorney’s fees from
Garcia did not violate the FDCPA, because MFLLC was “permitted by law” to do so
pursuant to N.J.S.A. 22A:2-42. çç 15 U.S.C.
F or the aforementioned reasons, the Court grants MFLLC’s motion to dismiss the
complaint. The Court will enter an appropriate order and judgment.
Uf’ed States District Judge
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