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Crenshaw v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

January 9, 2020

CORETTA CRENSHAW PLAINTIFF
v.
PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, LLC; MIDLAND FUNDING, LLC; and MIDLAND CREDIT MANAGEMENT INC. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GREG N. STIVERS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss (DN 31), Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (DN 32, DN 33), Defendants' Motions for Leave to Seal Documents (DN 34, DN 36), and Defendants' Motions for Leave to File a Sur-Reply and for Oral Argument (DN 41, DN 44). These motions are now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion to dismiss is GRANTED, Defendants' motions for summary judgment are DENIED AS MOOT, Defendants' motions for leave to seal documents are GRANTED, and Defendants' motions for leave to file sur-reply and for oral argument are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Statement of Facts

         Plaintiff Coretta Crenshaw (“Crenshaw”) previously defaulted on credit card debt, which debt was purchased by Defendants Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (“Portfolio”) and Midland Funding, LLC, (“Midland Funding”). (Am. Compl. ¶ 11, DN 22). On November 5, 2013, Midland Funding filed suit against Crenshaw in Barren District Court, ultimately receiving a default judgment in the amount of $703.14. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 35-41). On November 4, 2015, Portfolio filed suit against Crenshaw in Barren District Court, receiving a default judgment in the amount of $776.18. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-17). On June 19, 2018, Crenshaw reviewed a tri-merge credit report that showed both default judgments and tradelines as provided by Portfolio and Defendant Midland Credit Management (“Midland Credit”) on behalf of Midland Funding. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-20, 42-43).

         B. Procedural History

         On August 16, 2018, Crenshaw filed a complaint against Portfolio, Midland Funding, and Midland Credit (collectively “Defendants”) alleging multiple violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Compl. ¶¶ 27, 34, DN 1). On April 3, 2019, Crenshaw filed an amended complaint. (Am. Compl.). On September 13, 2019, Crenshaw moved to dismiss her claims with prejudice as to all defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2). (Pl.'s Mot. Dismiss, DN 31). Later that same day, all Defendants moved for summary judgment. (Defs.' Mots. Summ. J., DN 32, DN 33).[1] Defendants then moved for leave to seal documents related to the motions for summary judgment. (Defs.' Mots. Leave Seal, DN 34, DN 36).[2] Defendants responded in opposition to Crenshaw's motion to dismiss, and Crenshaw replied. (Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s Mot. Dismiss, DN 38, DN 39; Pl.'s Reply Mot. Dismiss, DN 40). Finally, Defendants moved for leave to file a sur-reply and for oral argument regarding Crenshaw's motion to dismiss. (Defs.' Mots. Leave Sur-Reply & Oral Arg., DN 41, DN 44). Crenshaw responded in opposition, and Defendants replied. (Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' Mots. Leave Sur-Reply & Oral Arg., DN 42, DN 45; Defs.' Reply Mots. Leave Sur-Reply & Oral Arg., DN 43, DN 46)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action via federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Amended Complaint alleges violations of the FDCPA, which presents a federal question. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 54-56).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice

         Crenshaw has moved to voluntarily dismiss all claims with prejudice as to all Defendants pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 41(a)(2). Defendants oppose this motion claiming they will suffer “legal prejudice” if it is granted.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2) provides that “[e]xcept as provided in Rule 41(a)(1), an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper.” Whether to grant such a dismissal is within the sound discretion of the district court. Banque de Depots v. Nat'l Bank of Detroit, 491 F.2d 753, 757 (6th Cir. 1974). The district court should not approve voluntary dismissal if the defendant will suffer “plain legal prejudice” as a result of a dismissal without prejudice. Grover v. Eli Lilly & Co., 33 F.3d 716, 718 (6th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). When assessing plain legal prejudice, the court should consider factors such as: (1) the defendant's effort and litigation expenses, (2) excessive delay and lack of diligence on the part of plaintiff, (3) insufficient explanation of the need for dismissal, and (4) whether a motion for summary judgment has been filed by defendant. Id. (citing Kovalic v. DEC Int'l, Inc., 855 F.2d 471, 474 (7th Cir. 1988)). “These factors are only a guide, however, and the trial judge ultimately retains discretion to grant the motion to dismiss.” Malibu Media, LLC v. Ricupero, 705 Fed.Appx. 402, 407 (6th Cir. 2017) (citing Rosenthal v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 217 Fed.Appx. 498, 502 (6th Cir. 2007)).

         At first glance, these factors appear to weigh slightly against granting the voluntary motion to dismiss with prejudice. First, this case has been pending for more than one year, and Defendants claim they have spent substantial sums of money in defense-roughly $25, 000 by Portfolio and $21, 000 collectively by Midland Funding and Midland Credit. (Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s Mot Dismiss). All Defendants are represented by the same counsel, however, so it does appear that litigation costs are split between all three Defendants. Second, beyond the one-year timeline and lack of expert witness by Crenshaw, Defendants have not demonstrated excessive delay or a lack of diligence on the part of Crenshaw. Third, Crenshaw does not provide any explanation for why she is requesting to have all of her claims dismissed. Fourth, Defendants have filed a motion summary judgment, but they did not do ...


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