United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge.
case stems from an action to collect on a debt that was filed
in the District of Columbia Superior Court by EduCap, Inc.,
who was represented in that action by Weinstock, Friedman
& Freidman, PA. ("Weinstock"), against Dustin
Dove. That case was subsequently dismissed with prejudice.
Plaintiff Dustin Dove, the debtor in the Superior Court
action-which the parties refer to as the collection
case-brings four claims against Defendants EduCap and
Weinstock, essentially claiming that it was unlawful to bring
the Superior Court collection case. Specifically, Plaintiff
asserts claims under the federal Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act; the District of Columbia Debt Collection Law,
D.C. Code § 28-14 et seq.; the District of
Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act, D.C. Code §
28-3904 et seq.; and an abuse of process claim under
the common law of the District of Columbia.
the Court is Defendants'  Motion to Dismiss.
Defendants argue that each of the claims in the Complaint
fails because the original collection case was timely filed
in the Superior Court. Defendants also argue that each of the
individual claims in this case is barred as a matter of law
for additional independent reasons. Upon consideration of the
pleadings,  the relevant legal authorities, and the
record for purposes of this motion, the Court GRANTS
Defendants'  Motion to Dismiss. The Court agrees with
Defendants that the collection case was timely filed and
that, therefore, each of the claims in this case fails as a
matter of law. Accordingly, the Court does not reach
Defendants' other arguments as to why each of the four
claims must be dismissed for one or more independent reasons.
The claims in this case are dismissed with prejudice, and
this action is dismissed in its entirety.
purposes of the motion before the Court, the Court accepts as
true the well-pleaded allegations in Plaintiffs Complaint.
The Court does "not accept as true, however, the
plaintiffs legal conclusions or inferences that are
unsupported by the facts alleged." Ralls Corp. v.
Comm. on Foreign Inv. in U.S., 758 F.3d 296, 315 (D.C.
Cir. 2014). The Court recites only the background necessary
for the Court's resolution of the pending Motion to
noted above, this case stems from the collection case filed
in the Superior Court captioned EduCap, Inc., v Dustin
Dove, Civil Action No. 2015 CA 007783 C. See
Compl. ¶ 11; PL's Opp'n, Ex. A, EduCap's
Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, at l. EduCap brought
that case on behalf of HSBC Bank, N.A., and was represented
by the law firm Weinstock. See PL's Opp'n,
Ex. B ("Verified Complaint"), ECF No. 17-2, at
The Verified Complaint indicates that Plaintiff sued
"the Defendant for $32, 548.16, pre-judgment interest in
the amount of $11, 281.27, attorney's fees in the amount
of $750.00, balance due and owing for student loan by the
Plaintiff to the Defendant at the Defendant's request on
open account." Id.
alleges that the disclosure statement attached to the
Verified Complaint in that case shows that on August 21,
2007, a loan in the amount of $25, 573 was disbursed to Dove.
Compl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff further alleges that monthly
payments in the amount of $399.87 were due beginning on
January 6, 2011. Id. The Truth in Lending Disclosure
Statement (Itemization of Amount Financed and Loan Terms),
which was attached to the Verified Complaint in the
collection case and subsequently attached to Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss and Plaintiffs Opposition in this case,
appears to be the "note disclosure statement"
referenced in Plaintiff's complaint. See
Verified Compl., ECF No. 17-2, at 26. The Truth in Lending
Disclosure Statement shows a loan amount of $25, 573, as
alleged by Plaintiff, and a payment schedule of 46 monthly
payments of $399.87, due beginning on January 6, 2011,
followed by 192 monthly payments of $388.86, beginning on
January 6, 2015. Id. The Truth in Lending Disclosure
Statement shows that the lender is HSBC Bank, N.A.
Id. The statement also refers to the Promissory Note
associated with the loan for "any additional information
about nonpayment, default, any required payment in full
before the scheduled date and prepayment refunds and
penalties." Id. The Promissory Note includes an
acceleration clause, which allows the lender to accelerate
payments due on the loan upon non-payment by the borrower.
PL's Opp'n, Ex. B, at 16 ("Promissory
Note"), ¶12(a) ("Notwithstanding any other
provisions of this Note, I [the borrower] will be in default,
and upon giving any notice to me required by the law, you
[the lender] will have the right to declare the entire
outstanding Loan Amount, accrued interest, and all other
amounts payable to you under the terms of this Notice,
immediately due and payable in full, if... (a) I fail to pay
any schedule payment when due ... ."). The Promissory
Note also includes a choice of law clause, stating that
"[t]his Notice is governed by federal law, and to the
extent not preempted by federal law, the law of the State of
Delaware." Id. ¶ 17(d).
alleges that, according to EduCap, no payments were made by
Dove until July 2, 2015, when a $50 payment was remitted by
telephone. Compl. ¶ 13. Plaintiff further alleges that,
according to EduCap, Dove remitted a second payment in the
amount of $10, by telephone, on October 16, 2015. Meanwhile,
the docket for the collection case shows that the case was
filed in the Superior Court on October 9, 2015. See
District of Columbia Courts, Cases Online (docket for 2015 CA
007783 C); see also PL's Opp'n, Ex. B, at 4
(summons issued on October 9, 2015). Finally, the Superior
Court docket shows that, on February 19, 2016, EduCap's
motion to dismiss with prejudice was granted; Dove's
motion to dismiss was granted; and Dove motion for sanctions
was denied as moot; and the case was closed. See
District of Columbia Courts, Cases Online (docket for 2015 CA
007783 C). As far as the Court can glean from the Superior
Court docket and from the parties' pleadings in this
case, there was no ruling on the merits in the collection
case regarding the statute of limitations or any other
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move
to dismiss a complaint on the grounds that it "fail[s]
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "[A] complaint [does not] suffice
if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of
'further factual enhancement.' "Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Rather, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that,
if accepted as true, "state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider
"the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached
as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint,
" or "documents upon which the plaintiff's
complaint necessarily relies even if the document is produced
not by the plaintiff in the complaint but by the defendant in
a motion to dismiss." Ward v. District of Columbia
Dep't of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119
(D.D.C. 2011) (citations omitted).
argue that each of the claims asserted in the Complaint fails
as a matter of law because the collection case in the
Superior Court was timely filed. As explained below, the
Court agrees that the collection case was timely filed. For
that reason alone, all the claims asserted in the Complaint
must be dismissed, and the Court need not address
Defendants' other arguments in favor of dismissal.
the claims presented by Plaintiff in this case is premised on
the assertion that the collection case was filed after the
applicable statute of limitations had expired. See
Compl. ¶¶ 33-37 (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
claim); id. ¶¶ 40-42 (D.C. Debt Collection
Law claim); id. ¶¶ 46-47 (D.C. Consumer
Protection Procedures Act claim); id. ¶ 53
(D.C. abuse of process claim). Specifically, the claims are
premised on the assertion that a three-year statute of
limitations is applicable to the collection case and that the
collection case was filed outside of the applicable
three-year window. See Id. Defendants argue that the
collection case was timely filed and that, therefore, each
claim in this case fails a matter of law. Plaintiff does not
contest the premise of Defendants' argument that,
"the collection case was timely filed, each of their
claims fails. See PL's Opp'n at 1-3, 9-13.
They do, however, contest Defendants' argument that the
case was timely filed. The timeliness of the filing of the
collection case, therefore, is the primary legal question
before the Court. The Court now addresses that question.
argues that the three-year statute of limitations under
District of Columbia law was applicable to the collection
case because it is the law of the forum in which the
collection case was brought. PL's Opp'n at 16.
Specifically, Plaintiff emphasizes that, under District of
Columbia choice of law principles, the law of the forum
governs procedural matters. See Id. (citing
Huang v.D 'Albora,644 A.2d 1, 4 (D.C.
1994) ("[T]he laws of the forum ... apply to matters of
procedure"). Plaintiff further emphasizes that a statute
of limitations is considered procedural. See Id.
(citing Namerdy v. Generalcar,217 A.2d 109, 113
(D.C. 1966)); see also A.I. Trade Fin., Inc. v.Petra Int'l Banking Corp.,62 F.3d 1454, 1458
(D.C. Cir. 1995). While Defendants do not concede that a
three-year statute of limitations is applicable, they argue
that, even under a three-year statute of limitations, the
filing of case was timely.See Defs.' Mot. at 6-8;
Defs.' Reply at 8. The Court now turns to the dispute
between the parties about whether the ...