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Mendes v. Jh Portfolio Debt Equities

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 2, 2019

JESSICA A. MENDES, Plaintiff,
v.
JH PORTFOLIO DEBT EQUITIES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jessica A. Mendes moves for default judgment against defendant JH Portfolio Debt Equities on her claim for damages and injunctive relief under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), and “the Consumer Credit Statute.” Mendes proceeds in this action pro se. For the reasons that follow, I will grant Mendes's motion on her FDCPA claim and enter judgment in her favor in the amount of $1485. I will deny the motion to the extent Mendes seeks judgment on a claim reasonably construed as one brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is a subchapter of the CCPA.

         Background

         Mendes's complaint alleges that in July 2018, JH Portfolio took over a collections account on which she had been making payments through Alpha Recovery. Mendes received no notice of this transition. In December 2018, Mendes began investigating the status of her account because she had not received any receipts from Alpha and she had noticed that Alpha was no longer deducting payments from her account. In response to Mendes's inquiries, Alpha informed her that JH Portfolio had taken over the account and had told Alpha to stop taking payments from Mendes. Mendes thereafter attempted to contact JH Portfolio by telephone and email; she left messages but received no response. Mendes thereafter attempted to call to set up a payment plan with JH Portfolio, but its telephone numbers were no longer in service.

         In the meanwhile, JH Portfolio made false and negative entries on Mendes's credit report. Mendes emailed customer service and received a response that JH Portfolio would contact her by telephone. No call ever came. Mendes contacted her credit union to dispute the negative entries and to explain her inability to communicate with JH Portfolio. The credit union gave Mendes a telephone number that JH Portfolio had provided regarding Mendes's inquiries - “(555) 555-5555.” Eventually finding a telephone number for JH Portfolio, Mendes called in April 2019 and spoke to “Heather, ” who advised that an agent would contact her within five to seven days regarding her concerns. JH Portfolio never contacted Mendes.

         Mendes alleges that JH Portfolio made false and negative statements on her credit report and did not timely send her a notice summarizing her debt. She claims that because of JH Portfolio's false statements, she 1) is paying a higher interest rate on a loan, 2) has been turned down for other loans, and 3) suffers emotional distress. As relief, she seeks $5000 in punitive damages and for emotional distress, reimbursement of her “legal and traveling costs, ” an order expunging the false negative remarks from her credit report, and an order directing JH Portfolio to release her debt to another creditor that has no connection with JH Portfolio. She does not seek statutory damages.

         Mendes filed her verified complaint in this Court on May 24, 2019, and JH Portfolio was served with summons and complaint on July 15, 2019. JH Portfolio did not respond to the complaint, however, and on August 30, 2019, the Clerk of Court entered default against JH Portfolio. Notice of this entry of default was mailed to JH Portfolio at the address listed on the summons' return of service. Mendes now seeks default judgment against JH Portfolio in the amount of $5485, which is comprised of $5000 for actual and punitive damages, $400 for the filing fee, and $85 for the service-of-process fee. Mendes also seeks an injunction, ordering JH Portfolio to release her debt to a new creditor with which it has no relation.

         In support of her motion, Mendes submits her affidavit in which she relies on the information of record, restates her allegations against JH Portfolio, and sets out the requested relief.

         Discussion

         Where default has been entered, the allegations of the complaint are taken as true, except as to the amount of damages; it then “remains for the court to consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law.” Murray v. Lene, 595 F.3d 868, 871 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

         The FDCPA was enacted as part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, in part, to “eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors[.]” 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e). Among other things, the statute sets forth the duties of a debt collector regarding its representations made in connection with the collection of a debt, § 1692e, as well as its duties regarding notices of debt, § 1692g. Under § 1692e(8), a debt collector may not communicate or threaten to communicate to any person “credit information which is known or which should be known to be false[.]” Under § 1692g(a), a debt collector must, within five days after initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of a debt, send the consumer a written notice containing:

(1) the amount of the debt;
(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt ...

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