United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
QUINTON CARLSON, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
PATRICK K. WILLIS COMPANY, INC. and SEAN SASVILLE, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Quinton Carlson is suing defendant Patrick K. Willis Company,
Inc. and its employee Sean Sasville under the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Carlson contends that
Sasville made two telephone calls attempting to collect a
debt he owed on a truck and that Sasville's calls
included threats, misrepresentations, and other statements
that violated the FDCPA. Carlson also seeks to represent a
class of Wisconsin consumers who he says have been harmed by
Willis's alleged illegal debt-collection practices.
related motions are before the court: (1) Willis's motion
to dismiss Carlson's complaint under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Dkt. 18; (2) Willis's motion to
dismiss Carlson's claims against Sasville based on
Carlson's failure to serve Sasville with his amended
complaint, Dkt. 36; (3) Carlson's motion for an extension
of time to serve process on Sasville, Dkt. 39; and (4)
Willis's motion for sanctions against Carlson under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, Dkt. 30.
court will grant Willis's motion to dismiss Carlson's
amended complaint for failure to state a claim. Although the
parties agree that Carlson has failed to serve Sasville, the
court will dismiss the complaint as to both defendants
because the reasons for dismissal apply equally to both
defendants and because Carlson has had the opportunity to
respond to Willis's motion as it applies to both
defendants. See Hancock v. Sotheby's, Nos. 17 C
7446 and 18 C 4580, 2018 WL 6696071, at *3 n.4 (N.D. Ill.Dec.
20, 2018) (dismissing claims sua sponte against
unserved defendants who hadn't yet appeared because other
defendants' motion to dismiss raised arguments that
applied equally to all defendants and because plaintiff had
adequate opportunity to respond) (citing Malak v. Assoc.
Physicians, Inc., 784 F.2d 277, 280 (7th Cir. 2011)).
Accordingly, the court will deny the parties' motions
relating to service on Sasville as moot. The court will also
deny Willis's motion for sanctions because Willis
hasn't shown that Carlson's factual or legal
assertions warrant sanctions under Rule 11's standards.
court draws the following facts from Carlson's amended
complaint, Dkt. 17, which it accepts as true for the purposes
of deciding Willis's motion to dismiss. Lee v. City
of Chicago, 330 F.3d 456, 468 (7th Cir. 2003). The court
will also consider facts from documents provided by Willis: a
copy of a contract between Willis and Carlson's creditor,
which was referred to in Carlson's amended complaint, and
transcripts of Sasville's two phone conversations, which
Willis filed in response to Carlson's initial complaint.
Although Carlson doesn't expressly refer to these
transcripts in his amended complaint, he appears to quote
from them directly, compare Dkt. 17, ¶¶
40-42, 46-50 with Dkt. 6-1 and Dkt. 6-2, and he
doesn't object to Willis's use of them. So the court
will consider these documents under the doctrine of
incorporation by reference, which allows a defendant to
attach documents to a motion to dismiss that are referred to
in the complaint and central to the plaintiff's claim.
Wright v. Associated Ins. Cos. Inc., 29 F.3d 1244,
1248 (7th Cir. 1994).
purchased a truck on credit in 2015. The terms of his loan
granted the creditor, Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC, a
security interest in the truck. After Carlson fell behind on
his loan payments the next year, Ford retained Willis to
locate and repossess the truck. The agreement between Willis
and Ford provided that Willis would be paid if the truck was
recovered or if Carlson paid or settled his debt with Ford.
January 2019, Carlson spoke over the phone with Sasville, a
Willis employee. Sasville identified himself as “Sean
Michaels” with “SB Investigations.” Dkt.
21-1, at 2. Sasville said he was contacting Carlson about the
truck, and Carlson responded that the truck was in storage.
Sasville said that Ford wanted “to set up a time and
date to get the vehicle picked up” and asked Carlson if
Sasville could “convince [Carlson] to do the right
thing and turn the vehicle in.” Id. at 2-3.
Carlson said that Ford had illegally refused to allow him to
make up missed payments and that he would keep the truck
until his dispute with Ford was resolved. Carlson then told
Sasville that the truck was no longer in the country.
Id. at 4. Sasville replied, “I'm
definitely going to continue reaching out to your whole
entire family and everyone I can get ahold of that you know.
Maybe someone will let me know.” Id. Carlson
responded, “Yeah, do that. Do that. You know, just be
real careful about how you do it.” Sasville then said,
“Okay. You think . . . Alexandra [Carlson's
daughter] or Noah [Carlson's brother], or any of them
know anything?”, to which Carlson replied, “Hey,
you know what, give them a call. Find out. Just be careful
what you say. Cause I'll sue the shit out of you,
that day, Sasville called Carlson's son, Anthony.
Sasville again identified himself as “Sean
Michaels” with “SB Investigations.” Dkt.
21-2, at 2. Anthony claimed not to know Carlson, to which
Sasville replied, “Okay. No worries because I was
definitely going to see if you knew [Carlson] and offer you
some money if you could help me locate a vehicle.”
Id. Anthony again declined to help Sasville, and
Sasville responded, “No worries, man. I appreciate it.
I'll continue to reach out to some other family
filed a complaint on March 8, 2019, and an amended complaint
on April 17, 2019. In his amended complaint, he alleges that
defendants violated various provisions of the FDCPA during
Sasville's calls because Sasville used fictitious names
for himself and Willis, threatened to disclose Carlson's
debt to Carlson's family members, disclosed the debt to
Anthony, and offered to pay Anthony to help locate the truck.
moves to dismiss Carlson's complaint on multiple grounds,
but its main argument is that Willis isn't a “debt
collector” under the FDCPA provisions cited in
Carlson's complaint and therefore isn't regulated by
those provisions. Because Willis is correct on this point,
the court doesn't need to consider Willis's other
arguments for dismissal. Willis also contends that
Carlson's complaint includes false allegations and
frivolous legal arguments warranting sanctions under Rule 11,
but the court isn't persuaded that sanctions are
Motion to dismiss
FDCPA regulates the behavior of debt collectors. The FDCPA
provisions cited in Carlson's complaint regulate debt
collectors' communications with third parties; require
them to disclose their identities in telephone calls; and
prohibit them from using misrepresentation, deception, and
unfair or unconscionable methods of debt collection. 15
U.S.C. §§ 1692c- 1692f. For the purposes of these
provisions, the FDCPA defines a “debt collector”
as a person engaged in a business whose “principal