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Gathers v. CAB Collection Agency, Inc.

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

June 22, 2017



          Henry E. Hudson United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant CAB Collection Agency, Inc.'s ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). (ECF No. 6.)

         On April 4, 2017, Plaintiff Keonte Gathers ("Plaintiff) filed her Complaint alleging that Defendant violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692, etseq., commonly known as the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("FDCPA"). (ECF No. 1.) On April 27, 2017, Defendant filed the present Motion contending that Plaintiff failed to allege any facts sufficient to satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement to establish Article III standing. All parties have filed memoranda supporting their respective positions. (ECF Nos. 7, 8, 9.)

         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 will grant Defendant's Motion and will dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff begins her 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 Charleston Radiologists, PA, was the original creditor. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.) Though it is unclear when, at some point Defendant reported the debt on Plaintiffs credit report. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant on December 6, 2016, disputing the debt. (Id. ¶ 12.) Approximately two months later, on February 16, 2017, Plaintiff examined her credit report and found that Defendant had re-reported the debt, but had not listed it as being "disputed by consumer." (Id. ¶ 13.) As a result, Plaintiff summarily alleges that she "has been damaged" and that she "is entitled to damages in accordance with the FDCPA." (Id. ¶¶ 14, 17.)

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


         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. III, § 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 Lexmark Int'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, 477 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, she 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 Worth, 422 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, not conjectural or hypothetical.'" Id. at 1548 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560).

         To satisfy the particularization requirement, the plaintiff "must allege a distinct and palpable injury to himself." Worth, 422 U.S. at 501 (citations omitted). The injury must "affect the plaintiff in a personal and individual way." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 n.l. Claims asserting '"generalized grievance[s]' shared in substantially equal measure by all or a large class of citizens ... normally do[ ] ...

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