Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

RITER v. MOSS & BLOOMBERG

June 24, 1996

DAVID and KATHY RITER, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
MOSS & BLOOMBERG, LTD., an Illinois Professional Corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendant Moss & Bloomberg's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss the Complaint of Plaintiffs David and Kathy Riter ("Riters"). The only issue relevant to this motion is whether condominium association fees are "debt" for purposes of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-0 (1988 & Supp. V) ("FDCPA").

 The Riters filed their Complaint alleging that Defendant violated certain provisions of the FDCPA in the process of collecting condominium fees. The Riters assert that this court has subject matter jurisdiction over their claim pursuant to § 1692(k)(d) of the FDCPA. Defendants move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), arguing that the court lacks such jurisdiction.

 Congress created the FDCPA to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, and harassing debt collection practices. 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e). However, this protection extends only to "debt" as defined by the FDCPA. That is:

 
Any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes . . .

 15 U.S.C. § 1692(a)(5).

 Other courts in this district have had occasion to interpret this definition of debt. Debt

 
requires the offer or extension of credit to a consumer; an offer or extension of credit is a contractual transaction in which a consumer is offered or extended the right to acquire money, property, insurance, or services that are primarily for household purposes in which the consumer is permitted to defer payment.

 Perez v. Slutsky, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17711, No. 94 C 6137, 1994 WL 698519, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 12, 1994).

 In Vosatka v. Wolin-Levin, Inc., 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10415, No. 94 C 4129, 1995 WL 443950 (N.D. Ill. July 21, 1995), another court in this district addressed the exact issue presented by the instant case, i.e, whether condominium fees are "debt" within the definition of the FDCPA. The Vosatka court determined that they are not. The Vosatka court found that a condominium fee does not arise from a transaction, which is "an offer or extension of the right to acquire household-related property or services and to 'defer payment' for them." Id. at *3 (citing Zimmerman v. HBO Affiliate Group, 834 F.2d 1163, 1168-69 (3d Cir. 1987)). A "transaction" occurs when one is given the opportunity to use a commodity or service now, and to pay later. Id. The deferred payments are "debt." Id. The Vosatka court found that a condominium fee, or assessment, works in reverse fashion by definition: payments are due prior to the time when communal goods and services are provided. Id. Thus, there is no extension of credit.

 In addition, like taxes, condominium fees operate to provide communal goods and services which only indirectly benefit the payer. Id. at *4. This remote benefit also suggests that condominium fees do not qualify as FDCPA debts. Id. Hence, the Vosatka court found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

 Other district courts have also found that condominium fees are not FDCPA debts. See Azar v. Hayter, 874 F. Supp. 1314 (N.D. Fla.), aff'd Azar v. Hayter, 66 F.3d 342 (11th Cir. 1995) (holding that condominium fees are not debt because the sums do not reflect deferred payments on prior benefits); Archer v. Beasley, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2994, No. 90-2576(CSF), 1991 WL 34889 (D. N.J. Mar. 5, 1991) (finding that condominium fees are not debt because they do not involve the extension of credit).

 In response to Defendant's motion, the Riters argue that Vosatka, Azar, and Archer all base their holdings on the incorrect determination that the FDCPA requires an extension of credit. Citing Black's Law Dictionary, the Riters state that a transaction is an agreement which alters the legal relationship between parties, rather than an extension of credit. As such, the Riters contend that Congress did not intend to require the extension of credit when it sought to protect consumer "transactions" which benefit personal, family, or household purposes. Although this argument ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.