United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
civil action is before the Court on defendant's Amended
Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 22]. Plaintiff filed a response in
opposition to defendant's motion [Doc. 27], and defendant
replied [Doc. 30]. For the reasons below, the Court will
grant the motion to dismiss.
2008, Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC (“Ford”)
brought an action against plaintiff in the General Sessions
Court of Wilson County, Tennessee, to collect an owed debt
[Doc. 1-1]. The debt was reduced to a final judgment, and the
same court-at the request of defendant, on behalf of
Ford-subsequently issued two writs of wage garnishment in
2013 and 2015, respectively, to plaintiff's employers,
Dell and Insight Global [Docs. 1-1, 1-2]. These writs were
served upon the employers' agents within the state of
Tennessee [Docs. 1-1, 1-2].
moved from Tennessee to Texas in 2011, and in 2013, she
notified defendant that she had become a legal resident of
Texas [Doc. 1 ¶ 22]. Plaintiff's wages continued to
be withheld after she moved [Id. ¶ 25].
Accordingly, on October 27, 2015, plaintiff brought suit in
the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
against defendant, alleging violations of the Federal Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692, and the Texas Debt Collection Act
(“TDCA”), Tex. Fin. Code § 392 [Id.
¶¶ 37, 57-79]. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss
the action or, in the alternative, to transfer venue pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), due to lack of personal
jurisdiction [Doc. 4]. On March 18, 2016, Judge Pitman of the
Western District of Texas sustained defendant's
objections to lack of personal jurisdiction and consequently
transferred the action to this Court [Doc. 9].
claims that defendant is “currently conducting business
in the State of Texas as a debt collector” and is
therefore bound by the regulations governing Texas debt
collectors [Doc. 1 ¶ 5]. Plaintiff asserts-and defendant
does not dispute-that debt collectors must pay a bond before
conducting business in Texas, and defendant is not bonded in
Texas [Id. ¶ 10]. Additionally, defendant does
not deny that Texas courts may not order the garnishment of
wages-other than for child support or spousal support-under
the Texas Constitution. See Tex. Const. art. XVI,
§ 28 (“No current wages for personal service shall
ever be subject to garnishment, except for the enforcement of
court-ordered: (1) child support payments; or (2) spousal
parties are in disagreement, however, as to whether defendant
is subject to these restrictions-and consequently in
violation of the FDCPA and TDCA-based upon the garnishing of
plaintiff's wages while she resides in Texas pursuant to
the Tennessee state court judgment. Plaintiff claims that
defendant “ha[s] not satisfied the legal requirements
to collect any debt in the State of Texas” and is
therefore acting in violation of the TDCA by
“collecting a debt by using false, misleading, unfair
and unconscionable debt collection conduct and
representations” [Doc. 1 ¶¶ 9, 29].
Additionally, plaintiff argues that, by garnishing her wages,
defendant is “collecting a debt they cannot legally
collect in Texas, ” and thereby “maliciously,
willfully, and/or negligently violating the Fair Debt
Collection statutes in an attempt to collect
[p]laintiff's alleged debt” [Id.
¶¶ 25, 31].
states that plaintiff has failed to point to any such action
by defendant, “other than the undisputed fact the
[defendant] applied for, and obtained from the Tennessee
state court, writs of garnishment as to two of
[plaintiff's employers]” [Doc. 22 ¶ 2].
Consequently, defendant moves this Court to dismiss
plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that plaintiff has failed to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted because
“[w]age garnishment of Texas residents by other courts
is not prohibited, ” and the continuing
garnishment of wages does not qualify as the institution of a
legal action [Id. ¶ 11].
Standard of Review
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth a
liberal pleading standard. Smith v. City of Salem,
378 F.3d 566, 576 n.1 (6th Cir. 2004). It 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 upon which it rests.'”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Detailed factual allegations are not
required, but a party's “obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. at 555 (alteration in
original) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265,
286 (1986)). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (alteration in
original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557)).
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must
determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. In doing so,
the Court “construe[s] the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, accept[s] its allegations as
true, and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d
471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will
. . . be a context- specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679 (citation omitted).
argues that plaintiff's claims should be dismissed under
Rule 12(b)(6) primarily based on the Full Faith and Credit
Clause of the United States Constitution [Doc. 22 pp. 5-10].
Thus, the Court will begin by giving an overview of the Full
Faith and Credit Clause and related law, then it will apply
the law to this case.
Full Faith ...