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Oliver Holmes v. Contract Callers, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 22, 2017

OLIVER HOLMES, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTRACT CALLERS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (DISMISSING CASE FOR LACK OF SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION)

          Henry E. Hudson United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on its own initiative. On February 20, 2017, Plaintiff Oliver Holmes ("Plaintiff) filed his Complaint alleging that Defendant Contract Callers, Inc. ("Defendant") violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692, etseg., commonly known as the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("FDCPA"). (ECF No. 1.)

         On March 17, 2017, Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint. (ECF No. 3.) As an affirmative defense, Defendant asserted that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring this action. (Id. at 3.) Because this called into question subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court ordered the parties to submit memoranda addressing Plaintiffs standing. (ECF No. 6.)

         Pursuant to the Court's Order, Defendant filed a memorandum on May 15, 2017, arguing that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff has suffered no injury and thus has no standing. (ECF No. 13.) In Plaintiffs response, filed on May 28, 2017, he argues that there are "sufficient facts to prove particularized and concrete injuries to satisfy Article III standing." (ECF No. 14, at 2.)

         The Court will dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before it, and oral argument would not materially aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Local Civ. R. 7(J).

         For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and therefore will dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff begins his one-count Complaint by asserting that "[o]n information and belief, on a date better known to Defendant, Defendant began collection activities on an alleged consumer debt from the Plaintiff." (Compl. ¶ 7.) The Complaint notes that this alleged debt was incurred as a financial obligation that was primarily for personal, family or household purposes, and that "10 Dominion Resources, Inc." was the original creditor. (Id. ¶ 8.) Though it is unclear when, at some point Defendant reported the debt on Plaintiffs credit report. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant on September 15, 2016, disputing the debt. (Id. ¶ 11.) Approximately two and a half months later, on November 28, 2016, Plaintiff examined his credit report and found that Defendant had re-reported the debt, but had not listed it as being "disputed by consumer." (Id. ¶ 12.) As a result, Plaintiff summarily alleges that he "has been damaged" and that he "is entitled to damages in accordance with the FDCPA." (Id. ¶¶ 13, 16.)

         However, at no point in his Complaint does Plaintiff specify how he has allegedly been damaged.[1]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Structurally, our Constitution divides the Federal Government into three discrete branches, each with specifically defined powers. As such, it is well settled that judicial power is limited to the extent that federal courts may exercise jurisdiction only over "cases" and "controversies." U.S. Const, art. Ill. § 2; Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559 (1992). Thus, subject-matter jurisdiction requires a justiciable case or controversy within the meaning of Article III of the United States Constitution. See Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750-51 (1984), abrogated on other grounds by LexmarkInt'l, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1377 (2014). Standing constitutes one component of justiciability. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560. Whether a plaintiff has standing presents a "threshold question in every federal case, determining the power of the court to entertain the suit." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). "The objection that a federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised by a party, or by a court on its own initiative, at any stage in the litigation." Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 506 (2006) (internal citation omitted).

         The Supreme Court has established that the "irreducible constitutional minimum" of standing includes three elements: (1) an injury-in-fact; (2) a causal connection between the injury and the alleged misconduct; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61 (citations and quotation marks omitted). Because Plaintiff seeks to invoke this Court's jurisdiction, he bears the burden of establishing all three elements. Id. at 561. "Where, as here, a case is at the pleading stage, the plaintiff must 'clearly ... allege facts demonstrating' each element." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016), as revised (May 24, 2016) (quoting Warth, Ml U.S. at 518).

         In Spokeo, the Supreme Court reiterated the basic tenets of the standing doctrine. Id. at 1547. It noted that to satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement, a plaintiff must show "'an invasion of a legally protected interest' that is 'concrete and particularized' and 'actual and imminent, ...


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