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Jasmine Kinney v. Todd R. Erikson

April 16, 2012

JASMINE KINNEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TODD R. ERIKSON, TODD R. ERIKSON, P.A., BONNEVILLE BILLING & COLLECTION, BINGHAM MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, DJ MARC CARDINAL, M.D., MEDICAL IMAGING ASSOCIATION OF IDAHO FALLS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Plaintiff Jasmine Kinney's "Motion to Amend[] Service of Summons and Amended Complaint" (Dkt. 19) and one Motion to Dismiss filed by each of the five named Defendants: Bonneville Billing & Collection (Dkt. 5), Todd Erikson (Dkt. 6), Medical Imaging Association of Idaho Falls (Dkt. 7), Bingham Memorial Hospital (Dkt. 8), and DJ Marc Cardinal (Dkt. 9). The Court, having considered the briefing and related materials in the record, and having determined that oral argument would not significantly aid its decision, now issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Kinney brings this action against Defendants for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), stemming from Defendants' attempt to collect what she refers to as a "nonexistent debt". Amd. Compl. at 2-7, Dkt. 2. The record contains little in the way of factual background. However it appears that in June of 2011 Plaintiff was sued in Idaho state court by Defendant Bonneville Billing & Collections, through its attorney Todd Erikson (also named as a Defendant in this action). The suit was brought to recover sums allegedly owed to Defendants Bingham memorial Hospital, DJ Marc Cardinal, M.D., and Medical Imaging Associate of Idaho Falls, for "medical services" allegedly received by Plaintiff in 2009. The Amended Complaint alleges that on the 12th and 30th of August, 2011, "Defendants used false representation to collect or attempt to collect a debt" and "[falsely] asserted a right which [they] lack[] . . . the right to enforce a debt." Amd. Compl. at 4-7, Dkt. 2.

Plaintiff asserts that she has no contractual obligation to pay any Defendant. Id. Defendants seek dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted, but also challenge the sufficiency of the process served upon them. The Court will address each argument below.

ANALYSIS

1. Legal Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) Motions

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss "does not need detailed factual allegations," it must set forth "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. 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. Id. at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Id. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.' " Id. at 557.

In a more recent case, the Supreme Court identified two "working principles" that underlie Twombly. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Id. "Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 1950. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id. "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.

Providing too much in the complaint may also be fatal to a plaintiff. Dismissal may be appropriate when the plaintiff has included sufficient allegations disclosing some absolute defense or bar to recovery. See Weisbuch v. County of L.A., 119 F.3d 778, 783, n. 1 (9th Cir. 1997) (stating that "[i]f the pleadings establish facts compelling a decision one way, that is as good as if depositions and other . . . evidence on summary judgment establishes the identical facts").

A dismissal without leave to amend is improper unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint "could not be saved by any amendment." Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009)(issued 2 months after Iqbal).*fn1 The Ninth Circuit has held that "in dismissals for failure to state a claim, a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v. Northern California Collection Service, Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990). The issue is not whether plaintiff will prevail but whether he "is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Diaz v. Int'l Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, 474 F.3d 1202, 1205 (9th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted).

Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may consider matters that are subject to judicial notice. Mullis v. United States Bank, 828 F.2d 1385, 1388 (9th Cir. 1987). The Court may take judicial notice "of the records of state agencies and other undisputed matters of public record" without transforming the motions to dismiss into motions for summary judgment. Disabled Rights Action Comm. v. Las Vegas Events, Inc., 375 F.3d 861, 866 (9th Cir. 2004). The Court may also examine documents referred to in the complaint, although not attached thereto, ...


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