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Anthony Mazza v. Verizon Washington Dc

March 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Signed: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Court Judge


Plaintiff Anthony Mazza, proceeding pro se, brings this case against defendants Verizon Washington D.C., Inc. ("VZDC"), Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless, and AFNI, Inc. ("AFNI"), alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), as well as two common law claims. Pending before the Court is defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), (2), and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon consideration of the Motion to Dismiss, the Opposition and Reply thereto, the relevant case law, the entire record in this case, and for the reasons stated below, the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART defendants' Motion to Dismiss.*fn1


Mazza is a resident of Washington, D.C. and a former customer of defendants Verizon Wireless and VZDC. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 13. Mazza had a "bundled services" plan with Verizon Wireless and VZDC, whereby Verizon Wireless and VZDC supplied him with home telephone, cellular phone, and residential internet services. Compl. ¶¶ 13-14. Mazza alleges that he terminated this plan on April 25, 2007. Compl. ¶ 14. On or about that same date, Mazza was notified of an outstanding bill due and owing Verizon Wireless in the amount of $1,006.57. Compl. ¶ 17. On May 1, 2007, Mazza caused payment to Verizon Wireless via personal check in the amount of $1,006.57. Compl. ¶ 18. Mazza alleges that Verizon Wireless cashed the personal check on May 8, 2007. Compl. ¶ 19 (citing Ex. A). On or about that same date, Mazza received a bill from VZDC in the amount of $1,138.45. Compl. ¶ 20. Mazza believed that the difference between the bill and his recent remittance ($131.88) was the result of excessive charges and contacted the Customer Service department of VZDC. Compl. ¶ 21. However, Mazza alleges that VZDC informed him that the $131.88 amount was for a prior bill, which had already been paid, but, according to the VZDC representative, had not yet been processed by the cancellation team, which was "a common problem." Compl. ¶ 22.

Between July and September 2007, Mazza alleges that he responded to several VZDC inquiries-both verbally and in writing-regarding a "past due amount owed" to them. Compl. ¶ 23. Thereafter, between June 2008 and June 2009, Mazza received several requests-verbally and in writing-from defendant AFNI, demanding payment of $1,138.45 due their client, VZDC. Compl. ¶ 24. Mazza alleges that, on or about June 2010, he received from defendant AFNI a "Settlement Offer," in which AFNI offered to accept payment of "$569.23, half the current amount due" on his "account with AFNI." Compl. ¶¶ 25-26 (citing Ex. B). Mazza alleges that he called AFNI to ascertain what was meant by his "account with AFNI," and he was informed that a collection notice had been reported to Consumer Credit Bureaus. Compl. ¶ 27.

According to Mazza, he made multiple inquiries of all of the defendants-both verbally and in writing-denying owing monies, requesting inquiry into the amounts remitted and cashed by defendant Verizon Wireless, and demanding the reversal of negative credit reporting. However, defendant Verizon Wireless would only confirm receipt of payment, but insisted that the credit dispute resolution was within the province of defendant Verizon Communications; defendant VZDC disputed receipt of payment and continually referred Mazza to defendant AFNI; defendant AFNI pledged on several occasions to investigate, but continued to make demands for payment; and defendant Verizon Communications continually denied culpability, and referred Mazza to customer services representatives of the other defendants. Compl. ¶¶ 28-32. In July 2010, Mazza called defendant Verizon Communications; after several directed connections, Mazza was informed that the billing issue was a result of his having paid Verizon Wireless, instead of VZDC. Compl. ¶ 33. Mazza alleges that defendant Verizon Communications pledged to address the matter promptly. Id. In August 2010, Mazza contacted defendant Verizon Wireless to inform it that it had "effectively converted" his payment; Verizon Wireless pledged to resolve the matter. Compl. ¶ 34. Mazza alleges that, to date, there has been no resolution, and he has suffered economic harm due to the severity of the negative consumer credit reporting. Compl. ¶ 35.

Mazza, proceeding pro se,*fn2 filed his Complaint in this action on April 13, 2011. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), (2), and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. That motion is now ripe for determination by the Court.


A.Rule 12(b)(2)

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of making a prima facie showing that the court has personal jurisdiction over each defendant. See Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Soc'y, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990); First Chi. Int'l v. United Exch. Co., Ltd., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C. Cir. 1988). The plaintiff, however, cannot rest on bare allegations or conclusory statements and "must allege specific facts connecting [each] defendant with the forum." Second Amendment Found. v. U.S. Conference of Mayors, 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (internal quotation omitted). "To make such a showing, the plaintiff is not required to adduce evidence that meets the standards of admissibility reserved for summary judgment and trial; rather [he] may rest [his] arguments on the pleadings, 'bolstered by such affidavits and other written materials as [he] can otherwise obtain.'" Urban Inst.

v. FINCON Servs., 681 F. Supp. 2d 41, 44 (D.D.C. 2010) (quoting Mwani v. Bin Laden, 417 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C. Cir. 2005)).

When determining whether personal jurisdiction exists over a defendant, the court need not treat all of a plaintiff's allegations as true. Instead, the court "may receive and weigh affidavits and any other relevant matter to assist it in determining the jurisdictional facts." Buesgens v. Brown, 567 F. Supp. 2d 26, 31 (D.D.C. 2008) (internal quotation omitted). Any factual discrepancies with regard to the existence of personal jurisdiction, however, must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff. See Crane, 894 F.2d at 456. Although complaints filed by pro se plaintiffs are to be liberally construed, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), pro se plaintiffs "are not freed from the requirement to plead an adequate jurisdictional basis for their claims," Kurtz v. United States, 779 F. Supp. 2d 50, 51 (D.D.C. 2011) (internal quotation omitted).

B.Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "'[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint[,]'" Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94), and grant the plaintiff "the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged," Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). A court need not, however, "accept inferences drawn by plaintiffs if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint. Nor must the court accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." Id. In addition, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 1950.

"'[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Even a pro se complainant, however, must plead "'factual matter' that permits the court to infer 'more than the mere possibility of misconduct.'" Atherton, 567 F.3d at 681-82 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950).


A.FCRA Claims

Mazza claims that defendants VZDC and AFNI violated the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., by reporting to consumer reporting agencies ("CRAs") false, erroneous, and negative credit information that adversely affected him. Compl. ¶¶ 51-55. Defendants argue that no private right of action exists under the FCRA. Defendants additionally argue that Mazza has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under the FCRA. See Defs.' Mem. of Points and Authorities in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mem.") at 4-5, 7.

Section 1681s-2 of the FCRA sets forth "[r]esponsibilities of furnishers of information*fn3 to consumer reporting agencies," delineating two categories of responsibilities. Subsection (a) details the duty "to provide accurate information," and states that a furnisher of information "shall not furnish any information relating to a consumer to any [CRA] if the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the information is inaccurate." 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(a)(1)(A). In addition, a furnisher of information shall not furnish such information to a CRA if it "has been notified by the consumer . . . that specific information is inaccurate . . . and the information is, in fact, inaccurate." Id. § 1681s-2(a)(1)(B). Subsection (b) provides that once a furnisher of information receives notice of "a dispute with regard to the completeness or accuracy of any information provided by a person to a [CRA]," it must conduct an investigation into the disputed information and report the results of that investigation to the CRA. Id. § 1681s-2(b)(1).

The FCRA imposes civil liability on any person who willfully or negligently fails to comply with any of the Act's requirements. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681n (creating civil liability for willful noncompliance with any portion of the Act); id. § 1681o (creating civil liability for negligent noncompliance with any portion of the Act). The Act, however, expressly excludes Section 1681s-2(a) from the purview of Sections 1681n and 1681o, instead limiting enforcement of Subsection (a) exclusively to the federal and state agencies and officials identified in Section 1681s. See id. §§ 1681s-2(c), (d). Section 1681s-2(a) thus does not provide for a private right of action, that is, enforcement by an individual. See Edmond v. Am. Educ. ...

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