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Stephens v. Premiere Credit of North America, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

January 22, 2018



          Greg N. Stivers, United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (DN 47). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The events precipitating this litigation are as follows: In August 2014, Plaintiff Jemicah Stephens (“Plaintiff”) enrolled in law school and sought federal loans to finance his education. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11, DN 44). In doing so, Plaintiff discovered that the Department of Education (“DOE”) had reported a federal loan that was disbursed to him to fund his undergraduate studies-but that he contends he neither applied for nor received-as being in default. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13). Around the same time, Plaintiff also learned that the DOE had enlisted Defendant Premiere Credit of North America, LLC (“Defendant”) to collect the debt associated with his undergraduate loan, and Plaintiff's mother contacted one of Defendant's representatives to “resolve the issue.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 15). The representative told her that Plaintiff's defaulted loan would be “rehabilitated” if she made certain payments toward it. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16). Despite her compliance with the representative's suggested payment plan, Plaintiff's loan remained in default, and Plaintiff began receiving letters from Defendant advising him of his defaulted loan and account balance. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-18).

         As a result, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant claiming, inter alia, [1] that Defendant violated Section 1692e(8) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”)-and committed defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress- when, “on information, [it] reported false . . . information about” him-“namely, that he defaulted on a federal loan”-“to third parties . . . .”[2] (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-16, 46 (emphasis added)). Plaintiff further alleged that his mother was one of the third parties to whom Defendant divulged false information. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16). Among others, Plaintiff listed punitive damages and injunctive relief as remedies. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ A, C, D).

         Shortly thereafter, Defendant moved for partial judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). (Def.'s Mot. Partial J. Pleadings, DN 47). Essentially, Defendant argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's Section 1692e(8) claim, along with his defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, because he failed to adequately support those claims with factual allegations. (Def.'s Mot. Partial J. Pleadings 4-13). In addition, Defendant claims that the Court should not permit Plaintiff to pursue punitive damages or injunctive relief because he failed to allege facts sufficient to entitle him to those remedies. (Def.'s Mot. Partial J. Pleadings 13-16).

         In response to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff acknowledges that he did not plead an adequate factual basis to support his claims for intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, or injunctive relief; thus, he “agree[d] to dismiss” those claims. (Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Partial J. Pleadings 1, DN 48 [hereinafter Pl.'s Mem.]). Plaintiff contests Defendant's other arguments, however, asserting that his allegation that Defendant falsely told his mother that he owed a debt states a claim under Section 1692e(8), a claim for invasion of privacy, and a basis for obtaining punitive damages. (Pl.'s Mem. 2-4).

         Defendant then submitted a reply to Plaintiff's response in which it largely reiterated the arguments raised in its initial motion. (Def.'s Reply Supp. Mot. Partial J. Pleadings 1-6, DN 50). Thus, the parties have fully briefed the pending motion, which is now ripe for adjudication.


         This action arises under the laws of the United States, and this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.


         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed . . . a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” The Court “review[s] Rule 12(c) motions under the same standard as Rule 12(b)(6) motions.” Horen v. Bd. of Educ. of Toledo City Sch. Dist., 594 F.Supp.2d 833, 840 (N.D. Ohio 2009) (citation omitted). Accordingly, to survive a Rule 12(c) motion, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Traverse Bay Area Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Mich. Dep't of Educ., 615 F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). When assessing a claim's plausibility, the Court must assume that all factual allegations in the complaint are true and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, but need not assume the truth of legal conclusions. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Accordingly, a claim is plausible when the complaint “contain[s] direct or inferential allegations respecting all” of the claim's elements; on the other hand, a claim is implausible when the complaint simply recites the claim's elements or when the only factual allegations supporting it are asserted “upon information and belief.” See 16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 506 (6th Cir. 2013); Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007).


         As noted, Defendant moves for judgment on the pleadings as to Plaintiff's Section 1692e(8) claim, as well as his claims for defamation, intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. (Def.'s Mot. Partial J. Pleadings 4-17). Because Plaintiff “agree[d] to dismiss” his defamation, intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress, and injunctive relief claims in his responsive memorandum, however, the Court will dismiss those claims without “discussion of the substantive merits of [Defendant's] arguments for dismissal . . . .” (Pl.'s Mem. 1); see Walter v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA, No. 2:11-CV-912, 2012 WL 641949, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 28, 2012) (citation omitted) (dismissing claim when the plaintiff agreed to dismiss it and noting that courts need not address the defendant's arguments ...

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