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John Tallman v. Freedman Anselmo Lindberg LLC; and Does 1-10

March 30, 2012

JOHN TALLMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FREEDMAN ANSELMO LINDBERG LLC; AND DOES 1-10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge.

E-FILED

Friday, 30 March, 2012 04:45:54 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Defendant's Objections to Opinion Dated February 22, 2012. See d/e 30. In the February 22, 2012 Opinion, United States Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore denied Defendant Freedman Anselmo Lindberg, LLC's (Freedman) Cross-Motion for Sanctions (d/e 15).

For the reasons that follow, Freedman's objections are overruled.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

Both parties assert that Judge Cudmore's ruling was a ruling on a nondispositive matter and that this Court may set aside the ruling if it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). However, the Seventh Circuit has held that a ruling on a motion for sanctions constitutes a dispositive matter. See Retired Chicago Police Ass'n v. City of Chicago, 76 F.3d 856, 869 (7th Cir. 1996) (a request for sanctions, whether requested prior to or after a dismissal on the merits, is a dispositive matter and review of the magistrate judge's report and recommendation is de novo); see also Mintel Intern. Group, Ltd. v. Neergheen, 636 F. Supp. 2d. 677, 691 (N.D. Ill. 2009).

Therefore, this Court will treat Judge Cudmore's Opinion as a Report and Recommendation (Report) and treat his denial of sanctions as a recommendation that sanctions be denied. This Court reviews de novo any part of the Report to which a proper objection has been made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Upon review of the Report, this Court may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition, receive further evidence, or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

II. BACKGROUND

On July 8, 2011, Plaintiff John Tallman filed the Complaint against Freedman and "Does 1-10" alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq) (Count I), the Illinois Collection Agency Act (ICAA) (225 ILCS 425/1 et seq.) (Count II), the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (815 ILCS 505 et seq.) (Count III), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV), and invasion of privacy by intrusion into private affairs (Count V). The Complaint alleged that Freedman, operating as a collection agency, engaged in harassment and abusive tactics while attempting to collect a debt from Plaintiff.

For example, in Count I, Plaintiff set forth a list of the various provisions of the FDCPA allegedly violated by Freedman, including allegations that "Defendants threatened the Plaintiff with violence against his person" and "Defendants used profane and abusive language when speaking with the consumer." See Cmplt., Count I, ¶¶ 3, 4. In Count II, Plaintiff set forth a list of the various provisions of the ICAA allegedly violated by Freedman, including allegations that "Defendants engaged in conduct which was intended to cause and did cause mental or physical illness to the Plaintiff or his or her family" and "Defendants misrepresented the amount of the claim or debt alleged to be owed." See Cmplt., Count II, ¶¶ 21, 23.

In September 2011, after two unopposed motions for an extension of time, Freedman answered the Complaint. Plaintiff served discovery on Freedman in October 2011, to which Freedman responded in November 2011.

In November 2011, Freedman served discovery requests on Plaintiff. The majority of the discovery requests were directed at discovering the factual basis for the various FDCPA and ICAA violations alleged in the Complaint. On December 29, 2011, Plaintiff responded to many of the interrogatory requests by asserting that he intended to amend the Complaint to remove that allegation.

In fact, on December 20, 2011, Plaintiff had filed a motion seeking leave to amend the Complaint and attached the proposed Amended Complaint. The proposed Amended Complaint removed several allegations of FDCPA and ICAA violations (including the ones cited above) and add a ...


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