Jackson v. Abendroth & Russell, P.C.

Citation207 F.Supp.3d 945
Decision Date12 September 2016
Docket NumberNo. 4:16-cv-00113-RGE-HCA,4:16-cv-00113-RGE-HCA
Parties Patrick L. JACKSON, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. ABENDROTH & RUSSELL, P.C., Defendant.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa

207 F.Supp.3d 945

Patrick L. JACKSON, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,

No. 4:16-cv-00113-RGE-HCA

United States District Court, S.D. Iowa, Central Division.

Signed September 12, 2016

207 F.Supp.3d 947

J. D. Haas, JD Haas & Associates, PLLC, Bloomington, MN, Jesse Stine Johnson, Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC, Boca Raton, FL, for Plaintiff.

Jeffrey A. Boehlert, Jason Wallace Miller, Patterson Law Firm LLP, Des Moines, IA, for Defendant.




Now before the Court is Defendant Abendroth & Russell, P.C.'s Motion to Dismiss

207 F.Supp.3d 948

for Lack of Jurisdiction. ECF No. 9. The motion is resisted by Plaintiff Patrick L. Jackson, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated. Pl.'s Br. Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Lack Jurisdiction, ECF No. 10. The matter came before the Court for hearing on August 12, 2016. Hr'g Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Lack Jurisdiction Mins., ECF No. 16. Attorney Jason W. Miller represented Abendroth & Russell. Attorneys J.D. Haas and Jesse S. Johnson represented Jackson. Id. Both parties argued in support of their respective positions. The issue before the Court is whether Jackson has standing under Article III to bring claims against Abendroth & Russell under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes Jackson's allegations are insufficient to confer Article III standing on Jackson, and thus this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction.


Jackson, a private citizen of Iowa, brings this action on behalf of himself and others similarly situated against Abendroth & Russell, P.C. (A&R), a corporation headquartered in Des Moines, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Jackson alleges certain debt collection letters sent by A&R to him and other consumers residing in Iowa violated the FDCPA. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692 (2012 & Supp.2015).

At some time prior to this action, Capital One Bank hired A&R to recover a monetary debt owed by Jackson. Compl. ¶ 15, ECF No. 1. In early 2016, Jackson received a letter from A&R. Id. ¶ 20. The two-page letter, dated January 19, 2016, was the first communication between Jackson and A&R. Id. ¶ 21. It both informs Jackson of his debt and demands payment. See Compl. Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1. The letter states that "[A&R] represents CAPITAL ONE BANK (USA), N.A. concerning the above matter" and lists the bank's Virginia address, an account number, and the "Total Amount Due" at the top of the first page. Id. at 2. The rest of the letter states, in pertinent part:


Unless the consumer, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector. If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer (if applicable) and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector. Upon the consumer's request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. This communication is from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.


You are now in default on this credit transaction. You have a right to correct this default until February 19, 2016 . If you do so, you may continue with the contract as though you did not default. Your default consists of failure to pay on the above account where credit was extended. Correction of the default: To correct the default you must pay $15,758.62 on or before February 19, 2016 . If you do not correct your default by the date stated above, your creditor may exercise its rights against you under the law. If you default again in the
207 F.Supp.3d 949
next year, your creditor may exercise its rights without sending you another notice like this one.


Jackson contends the letter violated the FDCPA because it did not contain two separate informational disclosures mandated by 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. ECF No. 1 ¶ 7. In Count I, Jackson argues the letter violates 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b) by demanding payment of his debt before the closure of the thirty-day statutorily-mandated validation window. Id. ¶¶ 43–48. Section 1692g of the FDCPA provides consumers the right to validate their debt within thirty days after receiving notice of their FDCPA rights from a debt collector. 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a) –(b). The letter Jackson received from A&R demands payment by February 19, 2016—approximately thirty days after the date printed on the letter—rather than thirty days after Jackson received the letter. ECF No. 1-1 at 2. Thus, the letter demands payment before the thirty-day validation window expires. According to Jackson, this served to "overshadow[ ] and/or was inconsistent with the disclosure of [his] right to dispute the [d]ebt or to request the name and address of the original creditor." ECF No. 1 ¶ 47. In Count II, Jackson argues the letter violates 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(5) by failing to properly disclose the proper means for verifying the identity of the original creditor of his alleged debt—specifically, that Jackson was supposed to make such a request in writing. Id. ¶¶ 49–56. Jackson seeks class certification and an order "[e]njoining [A&R] from future violations of [the FDCPA] with respect to [Jackson] and the class," as well as an award for statutory damages, attorneys' fees and costs, and interest. Id. at 11–12.

On June 15, 2016, A&R filed the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. A&R argues Jackson's claims under the FDCPA lack Article III standing because the claims fail to properly allege "a concrete injury-in-fact particular to him." ECF No. 9-1 at 14. Relying on the United States Supreme Court decision of Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 194 L.Ed.2d 635 (2016), A&R contends claims based solely on "bare procedural violations" of a federal statute are insufficient to confer standing. ECF No. 9-1 at 1. A&R argues that under Spokeo , Jackson's "bare allegation" that A&R violated the FDCPA and his claim for statutory damages fails to constitute a "concrete harm" sufficient for standing purposes. Id. at 9–13.

Jackson maintains that Spokeo did nothing to change federal standing requirements and cites two pre-Spokeo cases from the Eighth Circuit to support a finding of standing here.1 ECF No. 10 at 5–10. Jackson argues Spokeo merely reinforced the notion that a plaintiff satisfies the Article III injury-in-fact requirement "so long as a claimed injury is both concrete and particularized."Id. at 10. He contends the Supreme Court was careful to reaffirm that intangible harms, such as a violation of a statute's procedures alone, can in some circumstances constitute an injury in fact under Article III. Id. at 11–13. Jackson asserts the statutory harm he suffered through A&R's violation of the FDCPA constitutes such a cognizable injury.

207 F.Supp.3d 950

Id. at 13–21. A&R counters that violations of the FDCPA do not "automatically" establish an injury in fact or standing. Def.'s Reply Br. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 2–5, ECF No. 12.


A&R asserts Jackson's claims must be dismissed for want of subject-matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See Faibisch v. Univ. of Minn. , 304 F.3d 797, 801 (8th Cir.2002) ("[I]f a plaintiff lacks standing, the district court has no subject matter jurisdiction."). The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing standing. United States v. One Lincoln Navigator 1998 , 328 F.3d 1011, 1013 (8th Cir.2003). In considering whether a party has standing, the Court "must accept as true all material allegations of the complaint, and must construe the complaint in favor of the complaining party." Warth v. Seldin , 422 U.S. 490, 501, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). The Court does not assess the overall merits of a plaintiff's claim in the standing inquiry. Red River Freethinkers v. City of Fargo , 679 F.3d 1015, 1023 (8th Cir.2012).

A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can be brought by a party as either a "factual attack" or a "facial attack," the determination of which affects the Court's standard of review. Stalley v. Catholic Health Initiatives , 509 F.3d 517, 520–21 (8th Cir.2007) (citing Osborn v. United States , 918 F.2d 724, 729 n. 6 (8th Cir.1990) ). In a facial attack, a party challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings. See Titus v. Sullivan , 4 F.3d 590, 593 (8th Cir.1993). Thus, "the court restricts itself to the face of the pleadings and the non-moving party receives the same...

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