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Vandehey v. Sequium Asset Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 1, 2019

JACQUELYN A. VANDEHEY, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
SEQUIUM ASSET SOLUTIONS, LLC and JOHN DOES, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Jacquelyn A. Vandehey, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, filed this action against Sequium Asset Solutions, LLC and several John Does (collectively, Sequium), alleging that Sequium violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692, et seq. Specifically, Vandehey alleges that a letter she received from Sequium that sought to collect a debt she owed failed to state the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor, in violation of § 1692g, and was false, deceptive, and misleading, in violation of § 1692e. Presently before the court is Sequium's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons below, Sequium's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “While a plaintiff need not plead ‘detailed factual allegations' to survive a motion to dismiss, she still must provide more than mere ‘labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' for her complaint to be considered adequate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.” Bell v. City of Chicago, 835 F.3d 736, 738 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). When reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must “accept as true all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Kubiak v. City of Chicago, 810 F.3d 476, 480-81 (7th Cir. 2016). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In the FDCPA context, “a plaintiff fails to state a claim and dismissal is appropriate as a matter of law when it is ‘apparent from a reading of the letter that not even a significant fraction of the population would be misled by it.'” Zemeckis v. Global Credit & Collection Corp., 679 F.3d 632, 636 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Taylor v. Cavalry Inv., L.L.C., 365 F.3d 572, 574 (7th Cir. 2004)).

         ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

         Vandehey alleges that she received a letter dated August 4, 2017 from Sequium, a debt collector, who sought to collect a debt she owed to a creditor. The August 4, 2017 letter, which is attached as an exhibit to the complaint, was the initial written communication Sequium sent to Vandehey to collect the Debt. Vandehey's debt is a financial credit card obligation that arose out of one or more transactions entered into primarily for personal, family, and household purposes. The Debt was assigned to Sequium for the purpose of collection after Vandehey defaulted.

         At the top of the letter is Sequium's name, address, phone number, and hours of operation. Below this information is a table labeled “Account Information, ” which lists the date, reference number, creditor name, account number, and the total due. The entry for “Creditor Name” is “BLAZE CREDIT CARD.” ECF No. 1, Ex. A. Vandehey alleges that Blaze Credit Card is a financial product, not the name of a creditor, and therefore Sequium failed to name the creditor to whom the debt is owed. The “Total Due” is listed as $521.25. Id. A similar table with the same information appears in the bottom-right corner of the letter.

         The body of the letter informs Vandehey of different payment options. Specifically, the letter states:

         If you would like to make a payment on your account we have three convenient ways to pay:

Pay by phone: Please call the number listed above and speak with a representative.
Pay by Mail: Please enclose the bottom portion of this letter with your payment.
Pay Client Directly: Pay from an old statement or contact the creditor directly.

Id. Vandehey alleges that the Pay Client Directly option is confusing and misleading to an unsophisticated consumer because the letter does not identify the “Client” or “the creditor” and because reference to an “old statement” when the letter already states a “Total ...


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