Owoh v. Sena, 102319 FED3, 17-2716

Docket Nº:17-2716
Opinion Judge:ROTH, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Party Name:ROTIMI A. OWOH; OBAFEMI R. OWOH; ROTIMI R. OWOH, II, Appellants v. JASON S. SENA; CUTOLO MANDELL, LLC
Judge Panel:Before: JORDAN, KRAUSE and ROTH, Circuit Judges
Case Date:October 23, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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ROTIMI A. OWOH; OBAFEMI R. OWOH; ROTIMI R. OWOH, II, Appellants

v.

JASON S. SENA; CUTOLO MANDELL, LLC

No. 17-2716

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

October 23, 2019

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) on January 24, 2019

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D. C. Civil Action No. No. 3-16-cv-04581) District Judge: Honorable Peter G. Sheridan

Before: JORDAN, KRAUSE and ROTH, Circuit Judges

OPINION [*]

ROTH, CIRCUIT JUDGE

Plaintiffs appeal the District Court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in a case involving their attempt to collect a debt and their compliance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Bankruptcy Code. We will affirm the judgment of the District Court.

I

Plaintiff Rotimi Owoh is a condominium owner and the debtor in this case. The other plaintiffs are Owoh's children.1 Defendant Cutolo Mandell LLC is a law firm in New Jersey, and defendant Jason Sena is an attorney at that law firm who has served as Owoh's point of contact regarding this debt. In 2009, Owoh's condominium association embarked on an improvement project that required substantial contributions from owners and levied a "Renovation Project Special Assessment" to fund it. The owners were given the option to pay the full sum immediately or to make monthly payments to the association that would mirror a loan the association had obtained with Capital One Bank.2Owoh chose to make monthly payments and did so until 2014, when he filed for bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy proceedings were resolved, Owoh did not resume his monthly payments, but his balance continued to accrue.

Defendants contacted Owoh in 2015 regarding his debt. After he requested an itemized accounting of the debt, they sent him a statement on October 16, 2015, with an outstanding balance of $4, 619.90.3 A claim of lien was filed on May 11, 2016, with an outstanding balance of $10, 137.38.[4] A Certificate of Amount of Unpaid Assessments, prepared by the condominium association and dated November 1, 2016, included $10, 814.91 in assessments but also mentioned the $8, 364.48 that had been discharged in the 2014 bankruptcy, for a total of $19, 179.39.

Plaintiffs sued under the Bankruptcy Code and the FDCPA, claiming that (1) the 2014 bankruptcy had discharged all debt under the monthly payment scheme and (2) defendants' efforts to collect that debt were coercive and misleading and violated certain guarantees of specificity. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and the District Court granted the motion in full on March 8, 2018. The District Court determined that (1) Owoh's repeated requests for verification did not themselves create an FDCPA violation, (2) plaintiffs' coercion arguments were a reframing of the arguments that the 2014 bankruptcy had discharged all future monthly payments, (3) the varying numbers from defendants were not themselves indicia of falsity, and (4) the $19, 179.39 amount on the...

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