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Etro v. Blitt and Gaines, PC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 18, 2015

Jeanette Etro, Plaintiffs,
v.
Blitt and Gaines, P.C., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN ROBERT BLAKEY, District Judge.

This is an action for damages under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Plaintiff Jeanette Etro alleges that Defendant Blitt and Gaines, P.C. (a law firm) violated the Act when, in the course of its legal representation of Capital One Bank, Defendant instituted a wage deduction action (a type of garnishment action) against Plaintiff's employer in a judicial district where Plaintiff did not live.

Defendant has filed an amended motion to dismiss [10], arguing that it satisfied the venue requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This Court agrees and grants the motion for the following reasons.

I. Legal Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this Court must construe the Complaint [1] in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw reasonable inferences in their favor. Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 915 (7th Cir. 2013); Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). Statements of law, however, need not be accepted as true. Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915. Rule 12(b)(6) limits this Court's consideration to "allegations set forth in the complaint itself, documents that are attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and are referred to in it, and information that is properly subject to judicial notice." Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).

To survive Defendant's motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the Complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915. "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.

II. Background

Plaintiff Jeanette Etro resides in Homewood, Illinois. Compl. [1] ¶ 13. Homewood falls within the jurisdiction of the Sixth Municipal District in Cook County. Compl. [1] ¶ 14.

On December 19, 2011, Capital One Bank, which was represented by Defendant Blitt and Gaines, P.C., sued Plaintiff in the First Municipal District in Cook County to collect certain debts. Compl. [1] ¶¶ 7-10. That case is captioned: Capital One Bank v. Etro, Case No. 2011 M1179593. Compl. [1] ¶ 8; see generally Capital One Bank Docket Sheet [1-1].

The state court entered judgment against Plaintiff on May 10, 2012. Capital One Bank Docket Sheet [1-1]. Defendant, on Capitol One Bank's behalf, then instituted a wage deduction action against Plaintiff's employer to collect on the judgment; and, on November 15, 2013, the First Judicial District issued an Affidavit for Wage Deduction. Compl. [1] ¶¶ 23, 28; Capital One Bank Docket Sheet [1-1].

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the venue provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692i(a), by bringing the wage deduction action in the First Judicial District and not in the Sixth Judicial District, where she resides. That is the only claim pled in the Complaint.[1]

III. Analysis

The venue provision in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires creditors to bring "any legal action on a debt against any consumer... in the judicial district or similar legal entity-(A) in which such consumer signed the contract sued upon; or (B) in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action." 15 U.S.C. § 1692i(a).

The dispute here is narrow: Does the phrase "any legal action on a debt against any consumer" apply to wage deduction actions brought under Illinois law, thereby triggering the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act's venue requirements? Defendant argues that the wage deduction action here was a legal action against Plaintiff's employer, and not Plaintiff who is the "consumer" under Section 1692i(a). Plaintiff responds that she is the real interested party ...


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