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Samples v. Medicredit, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

June 7, 2019

STEPHEN SAMPLES, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDICREDIT, INC., Defendant.

          NEWBERN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR.UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. No. 23). Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. No. 27) and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. No. 28). For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on May 2, 2018, alleging Defendant violated Section 1692g(a)(2) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) by sending Plaintiff a debt collection letter that failed to meaningfully convey the name of the creditor to whom Plaintiff's alleged debt was owed. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 22-39). Plaintiff alleges the only information Defendant provided in the letter as to the debt's origination was that the “Facility” was Stonecrest Medical Center. (Id. ¶ 25). Plaintiff further alleges Defendant's letter “does not explain [Defendant's] relationship to Stonecrest Medical Center” and that “[t]he least sophisticated consumer would not understand that ‘facility' was equivalent to the identity of the current creditor to whom the debt is owed…Rather, ‘facility' may simply indicate that the location where the services were rendered.” (Id. ¶¶ 31, 26-27). The letter at issue is attached as an exhibit to the Complaint, Doc. No. 1-2, and is reproduced below:

         (Image Omitted)

(Doc. No. 1-2). The bottom portion of the collection letter is a detachable payment slip, with spaces for recipients to provide their credit card information. (Id.).

         On February 21, 2019, Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing Plaintiff's claim under Section 1692g(a)(2) should be dismissed because its “collection letter makes clear the name of the creditor.” (Doc. No. 23).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “After the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The standard for evaluating a motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same as that applicable to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Hayward v. Cleveland Clinic Found., 759 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 2014). “In reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, we construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all of the complaint's factual allegations as true, and determine whether the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle [him to] relief.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “The factual allegations in the complaint need to be sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to what claims are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead ‘sufficient factual matter' to render the legal claim plausible, i.e., more than merely possible.” Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009)).

         In ruling on a motion under Rule 12(c), the court may look only at the “pleadings.” Doe v. Belmont Univ., 334 F.Supp.3d 877, 887 (M.D. Tenn. 2018). The term “pleadings” includes both the complaint and the answer, Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(a), and “[a] copy of any written instrument which is an exhibit to a pleading is a part thereof for all purposes.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). Documents attached to a motion are considered part of the pleadings only if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to its claim. Amini v. Oberlin College, 259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001).

         Plaintiff filed a document titled “Conditions of Admission and Consent for Outpatient Care” as an exhibit to his Response to Defendant's Motion. (Doc. No. 27-1, Ex. A). Additionally, Plaintiff's Response cites an article from the New York Times, Stonecrest Medical Center's website, and an FTC study. (Doc. No. 27 at 10-11). These materials are not referred to in the Complaint and are not attached to the Complaint or answer as exhibits. For purposes of the instant motion, the Court will not consider the “Conditions of Admission and Consent for Outpatient Care”, New York Times article, Stonecrest Medical Center website, and FTC study. See Max Arnold & Sons, LLC v. W.L. Hailey & Co., Inc., 452 F.3d 494, 503 (6th Cir. 2006) (“The district court remains free to refuse to accept materials outside the pleadings in order to keep the motion under Rule 12(c) ....” (quoting 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1371 (3d ed. 2004))).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Fair Debt ...


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