United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Resolution Team, Inc., is a debt-collection agency. On
September 19, 2014, Account Resolution sued Richard Melton in
Hamblen County to collect a debt owed to one of its clients.
At the time, Melton lived in Jefferson County. On October 2,
2014, Account Resolution sued Desiree Hall in Hamblen County
to collect a debt owed to that same client. Hall lived in
September 18, 2015, Melton filed this lawsuit in state court.
He was the only plaintiff. Melton is suing Account Resolution
under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. He claims that
Account Resolution sued to collect his debt in an improper
court, violating 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e, 1692e(2)(A),
1692e(5), 1692e(10), 1692f, and 1692f(1).
Resolution removed Melton's suit to this Court on October
19, 2015. On November 10, Melton amended his complaint. He
added Desiree Hall as a plaintiff and converted this suit
into a class action. Melton also revised the statutes
underpinning his action. He and Hall are suing Account
Resolution under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e, 1692e(10),
1692f, and 1692i(a)(2).
the Court is Account Resolution's motion for judgment on
the pleadings. [D. 15]. It seeks to dismiss all claims
brought by Hall. For the following reasons, this motion is
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court
looks at all the pleadings filed in the case. Gavitt v.
Born, 835 F.3d 623, 640 (6th Cir. 2016). Motions for
judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) are reviewed under
the same standard as motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Id. The complaint will survive a motion to dismiss
only if, looking at the pleadings, the complaint states a
facially plausible claim for relief. Id.
determine whether the plaintiff has stated a facially
plausible claim, the Court takes a two-step approach.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). First,
it separates the pleadings' factual allegations from its
legal conclusions. All factual allegations, and only factual
allegations, are taken as true. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
the Court asks whether these facts amount to a plausible
claim for relief. Id. at 555. The plaintiff does not
need to make detailed factual allegations, but he must do
more than simply recite the elements of the offense.
Id. Specifically, the plaintiff must plead facts
sufficient to permit a reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the alleged conduct. Id. If
this is not done, the claim will be dismissed. Id.
alleges that Account Resolution sued her in the wrong court,
violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Plaintiffs
suing under the Act must do so within one year of when the
defendant violated the Act. 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(d). When a
plaintiff alleges that the defendant wrongly sued her, the
“violation” is the filing of the lawsuit.
Tyler v. DH Capital Mgmt., Inc., 736 F.3d 455, 463
(6th Cir. 2013). Account Resolution filed its collection
lawsuit on October 2, 2014. This means that Hall had to sue
Account Resolution by October 2, 2015. But she did not do so
until she was added as a plaintiff on November 10, 2015.
Hall's suit is therefore barred by the statute of
contends that the doctrine of relation back saves her suit.
But while relation back applies to adding new defendants or
claims, it does not apply to adding new plaintiffs. Asher
v. Unarco Material Handling, Inc., 596 F.3d 313, 317-20
(6th Cir. 2010). Her claim remains time barred.
Hall levels three counterarguments. First she asserts that
her claims relate back to the original complaint because they
are similar to Melton's. In making this argument, she
relies on Durand v. Hanover Ins. Co., 806 F.3d 367
(6th Cir. 2015). In Durand, the court recognized
that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C) permits
claims to be added after the statute of limitations has run,
as long as the defendant knew that he might face those
claims. Id. at 375. This happens, the court held, if
there is an “identity between the amendment and the
original complaint with regard to the general wrong suffered
and with regard to the general conduct causing such
wrong.” Id. Melton asserts that he was
subjected to wrongful litigation because Account Resolution
sued in the wrong venue. Hall asserts that she was subjected
to wrongful litigation because Account Resolution sued in the
wrong venue. Thus, she argues, the Durand standard
has been met.
reading of Durand ignores its context. Rule
15(c)(1)(C) permits one to amend only “the party or the
naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted.”
Hall is not the party against whom a claim is asserted, but
rather the party doing the asserting. And in Durand,
the parties whose claims were disputed were members of a
class defined in the original complaint. Id. at 369-
70, 372. There was no concern with adding plaintiffs.
Durand therefore does not apply to this case.
next argues that, because she is a member of the
plaintiffs' class in this case, her claim relates back to
the filing of the original complaint. But Melton's
original complaint did not contain class allegations. Rather,
Melton brought only individual claims as the sole ...