United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. Wright Allen United States District Judge.
case arises from Plaintiff Kimberly Dudley's unpaid
medical bill of $143.80 and the attempts to collect that debt
undertaken by Defendant Focused Recovery Solutions, Inc.
("Focused Recovery"). Plaintiff filed suit in state
court, alleging that Focused Recovery's collection
efforts violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA" or "the Act"), 15 U.S.C. §
1692 et seq. After removing the suit to federal
court, Focused Recovery moved to dismiss the Complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Because Plaintiff alleges no falsehood, misrepresentation,
unfairness, or unconscionable means within the ambit of the
Act, Plaintiff fails to state a viable claim for relief.
Accordingly, Focused Recovery's Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 5) is granted.
ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
courts accept a complaint's well-pled factual allegations
as true, and draw any reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. See Wag More Dogs, LLC v. Cozart, 680
F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012). Accordingly, the Court recites
the facts as alleged by Plaintiff. See Compl. (ECF
20, 2015, Plaintiff received medical services from the
Surgery Center of Chesapeake, incurring $7, 554.56 in
charges. See Itemization (ECF Nos. 6-5, 1-1 Exh. E);
see also Compl. ¶ 19. She was discharged that
same day. See Itemization; see also Compl.
¶ 19. Prior to treatment, Plaintiff signed a document
titled "Consent for Treatment, Release of Information
and Financial Responsibility" ("the
Agreement"). See Agreement (ECF Nos. 6-1, 1-1
Exh. A); see also Compl. ¶¶ 19-21. The
Agreement provided, inter alia, that "[a]ny
unpaid balance, whether covered by insurance or other
benefit, will be subject to a finance charge of 1 [percent]
per month, commencing sixty . . . days after the discharge
date. This is an annual percentage rate of 12
[percent]." Agreement at 1 (capitalization omitted).
Plaintiff further "agree[d] to pay all costs of
collection including an attorney's fee o[r] collection
fee of  percent of the unpaid bill at the time of
placement with such attorney or collection agency."
Id. (capitalization omitted).
health insurer paid for $7, 392.36 of the services' cost,
in two payments made on June 16, 2015. See
Itemization. This apparently underpaid the insurer's
share of the bill by $18.40. See Id. Plaintiffs
portion of the surgery's expense, $143.80, also remained
outstanding throughout the summer of 2015. See Id.
These debts totaled $162.20. See id.
to collect this outstanding sum, the Surgery Center engaged
the debt-collection services of Focused Recovery.
See Compl. ¶¶ 15, 18. Focused Recovery
sent Plaintiff a letter dated October 8, 2015 (the
"Dunning Letter"), informing her of the debt,
seeking payment, and providing several payment options.
See Dunning Letter (ECF Nos. 6-2, 1-1 Exh. E). The
Dunning Letter lists a balance of $207.61 and states:
"Payment in full to this office will stop further
collection action on this account. Make your check or money
order payable for $207.61." Id. The Dunning
Letter also provides statutorily required disclosures and
advises Plaintiff of her right to request verification of the
debt. See Id. Plaintiff responded to the Dunning
Letter by invoking this right. See Verification
Request at 1-2 (ECF Nos. 6-3, 1-1 Exh. C).
Recovery provided the requested verification by letter (the
"Verification Letter") dated December 15, 2015.
See Verification Letter (ECF Nos. 6-4, 1-1 Exh. D).
Enclosed was an itemized bill printed on the Surgery
Center's letterhead (the "Itemization"), which
Figure 1: Itemization Summary
Insurer Payment 1
Insurer Payment 2
Collection Fee Assessed
Refund of Insurer Payment 2 (from June 16)
Insurer Payment 3
Interest Charge to Insurer
Interest Payment from Insurer
Total Outstanding Balance:
Itemization reveals that the $189.21 outstanding balance is
comprised of $143.80 overdue for services and a $45.41
collection fee. See Id. The $18.40 difference
between the unpaid amounts listed in the Dunning Letter
($207.61) and the Itemization ($189.21) results from an
interim insurer payment. See Id. The record is
silent regarding whether Focused Recovery undertook
additional efforts to collect the debt or whether Plaintiff
ultimately paid the debt, and, if so, the amount she paid.
later, Plaintiff filed suit in Hampton Circuit Court,
alleging Focused Recovery's methods violated provisions
of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"). See Compl. ¶¶ 50-67.
Focused Recovery removed the suit to this Court and moved to
dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). See Removal Notice (ECF No. 1); see
also Mot. Dismiss. The Motion is now ripe for resolution
by the Court.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" United States ex rel Nathan v. Takeda
Pharm. N. Am., Inc., 707 F.3d 451, 455 (4th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). "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. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a
'probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than
a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Id. "Facts that are
'merely consistent with' liability do not establish a
plausible claim to relief." Takeda Pharm., 707
F.3d at 455. Rather, the '"[f]actual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level, ' thereby 'nudg[ing] [plaintiffs]
claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible.'" Vitol, S.A. v. Primerose Shipping
Co., 708 F.3d 527, 543 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) (first
and second alteration in original).
stage, "(1) the complaint is construed in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, (2) its allegations are taken as
true, and (3) all reasonable inferences that can be drawn
from the pleading are drawn in favor of the pleader." 5B
Charles A. Wright et al., Federal Practice & Procedure
§ 1357 & n.11 (3d ed.) (collecting cases);
accord Wag More Dogs, LLC v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359,
365 (4th Cir. 2012). However, courts "will not accept
'legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments.'" Takeda Pharm., 707 F.3d at 455
(quoting Wag More Dogs, 680 F.3d at 365).
a general rule extrinsic evidence should not be considered at
the 12(b)(6) stage." Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v.
Trigon Healthcare, Inc.,367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir.
2004). "Generally, . . . courts are limited to
considering the sufficiency of allegations set forth in the
complaint and the 'documents attached or incorporated
into the complaint.'" Zak v. Chelsea
Therapeutics Int'l, Ltd.,780 F.3d 597, 606 (4th
Cir. 2015); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However,
"when a defendant attaches a document to its motion to
dismiss, 'a court may consider it in determining whether
to dismiss the complaint [if] it was integral to and
explicitly relied on in the complaint and [if] the plaintiffs