Olsen v. Citi Bank Legal Dept, Civil Action No. 15-2190 (MAS) (LHG)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtSHIPP, District Judge
PartiesARNE EDWARD OLSEN, Plaintiff, v. CITI BANK LEGAL DEPT., Defendant.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 15-2190 (MAS) (LHG)
Decision Date16 November 2015


Civil Action No. 15-2190 (MAS) (LHG)


RECEIVED: November 17, 2015
November 16, 2015



SHIPP, District Judge

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Citibank, N.A.'s, improperly pled as Citi Bank Legal Dept. ("Citibank"), motion to dismiss Plaintiff Arne Edward Olsen's ("Olsen") Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 6.) Olsen opposed the motion (ECF No. 12), and Citibank replied (ECF No. 13). The Court has carefully considered the parties' submissions and decides the matter without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 78.1. For the reasons stated below, Citibank's motion to dismiss is granted.

I. Background

Olsen filed this action in the New Jersey Superior Count, Law Division, Special Civil Part, following the Federal Trade Commission's ("FTC") investigation and prosecution of an internet business opportunity scheme in which Olsen was defrauded. (Compl. Attach. I-A, 4-5, ECF No. 1-1.) Through this action, Olsen seeks protection as an "identity theft victim" for "unauthorized" use of his Citibank credit card for purchases he made but from which he received "no benefit." (Id. at 1, 6.) In June and August of 2012, Olsen was contacted by two online companies regarding

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establishing an internet business that would produce short term results and develop into a significant business. (Id. at 5.) Olsen invested money with Money Now Funding, or its affiliates, for different services to setup his internet business. (Compl. Attach. II-A, ¶¶ 2-4.) Specifically, Olsen used his Citibank credit card in July, August, and October 2012 to make such purchases. (Id. ¶ 4; Compl. Attach. III-A.) After learning of the fraud and the FTC action, Olsen submitted a request for restitution in the FTC action. (See generally Compl. Attach. II-A.)

By correspondence dated November 12, 2013, Olsen notified Citibank that he disputed the July, August, and October 2012 charges, in the approximate amount of $16,000. (Compl. Attach. III-A.) Citibank responded, by correspondence dated November 21, 2013, stating that because Olsen did not dispute the charges within sixty days of his billing statement that contained each charge as required under the Truth in Lending Act, Citibank would not credit his account for the charges. (Id.)

Olsen filed his Complaint on February 23, 2015, and Citibank removed it to this Court on March 27, 2015. In his Complaint, Olsen asserts claims against Citibank under five different laws: (1) Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p; (2) Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1601, and Regulation Z; (3) New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("NJCFA"), N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to -80; (4) Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. §1681; and (5) FTC's Business Opportunity Rule ("BOR"), 16 C.F.R. Part 437. (See generally Compl.) The thrust of Olsen's claim is that the charges he made using his Citibank credit card were "unauthorized" because he did not receive a benefit, and thus, Citibank cannot impose liability for the charges on him.

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II. Legal Standard

Rule 8(a)(2) "requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds on which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a "defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). Additionally, in determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the court must be mindful to accept its factual allegations as true and to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); James v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 700 F.3d 675, 679 (3d Cir. 2012). The "[c]ourt need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's 'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions.'" D'Agostino v. CECOM RDEC, No. 10-4558, 2010 WL 3719623, at *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 10, 2010).

A district court conducts a three-part analysis when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011). "First, the court must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'" Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Second, the court must accept as true all of a plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). The court, however, must disregard any conclusory allegations proffered in the complaint. Id. Finally, once the well-pleaded facts have been identified and the conclusory allegations ignored, a court must next "determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). During this last step, the court may consider documents attached to the complaint or explicitly referenced in the complaint. See In re

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Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (holding that "any document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint" may be considered "without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment").

III. Analysis

A. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Olsen alleges that Citibank violated section 805(c) of the FDCPA by calling him 235 times after he sent a cease and desist letter. (Compl., Br. Statement of Pl.'s Claims.) Citibank argues that Olsen's FDCPA claim fails as a matter of law because the FDCPA only applies to debt collectors and Citibank is a creditor. (Def.'s Moving Br. 5-6, ECF No. 6-1.) In response, Olsen states that "Citibank N. A. claims not to be a bill collector, but while not a bill collector for [Money Now Funding], Cardmember Services is requesting payment of...

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