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Adams v. Law Office of Keith S. Shindler, Ltd.

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

June 4, 2015

DEWANDA ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
LAW OFFICE OF KEITH S. SHINDLER, LTD., a/k/a THE SHINDLER LAW FIRM, a/k/a SHINDLER AND JOYCE, and CAVALRY PORTFOLIO SERVICES, LLC, Defendants. STANFORD REID, Plaintiff,
v.
BLITT & GAINES, P.C., and MIDLAND FUNDING LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GARY FEINERMAN, District Judge.

This opinion addresses two materially identical cases under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. Both suits allege that Defendants-debt collectors and their lawyers-violated the FDCPA's venue provision, 15 U.S.C. § 1692i(a)(2), by filing debt collection actions in Cook County's First Municipal District, located in downtown Chicago, instead of in its Sixth Municipal District, located in Markham, nearer to where Plaintiffs lived at the time the debt collection actions were filed. Defendants have moved to dismiss both suits as time-barred under the FDCPA's one-year statute of limitations, 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(d). Doc. 19 (14 C 8389); Docs. 15, 20 (14 C 8123). The motions are granted.

Background

On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept the complaints' well-pleaded factual allegations, with all reasonable inferences drawn in Plaintiffs' favor, but not their legal conclusions. See Smoke Shop, LLC v. United States, 761 F.3d 779, 785 (7th Cir. 2014); Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 632 (7th Cir. 2012). The court must also consider "documents attached to the complaint[s], documents that are critical to the complaint[s] and referred to in [them], and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, " along with additional facts set forth in Plaintiffs' briefs opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts "are consistent with the pleadings." Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Geinosky v. City of Chicago, 675 F.3d 743, 745 n.1 (7th Cir. 2012)). The facts are set forth as favorably to Plaintiffs as those materials permit. See Meade v. Moraine Valley Cmty. Coll., 770 F.3d 680, 682 (7th Cir. 2014); Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 2012).

A. Case 14 C 8389

Cavalry Portfolio Services, a debt collector, had been attempting to collect a $2, 135.44 debt that Dewanda Adams allegedly owed. Doc. 1 at ¶ 9. On February 22, 2012, Cavalry, through its counsel Law Office of Keith S. Shindler, filed a collection suit against Adams in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, First Municipal District, located in Chicago. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Adams lived in Harvey, Illinois, and the First Municipal District courthouse was roughly 22 miles from her home. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 18. By contrast, the Sixth Municipal District courthouse in Markham was just 3.5 miles from her home. Id. at ¶¶ 16, 19.

Adams did not appear in the collection case, and on September 24, 2012, the state court entered an ex parte default judgment against her for $2, 135.44 plus costs. Doc. 21-3 at 2. (The state court order, which is not attached to the complaint, is subject to judicial notice. See Young-Smith v. Holt, 575 F.Appx. 680, 682 (7th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) ("[A] court may take judicial notice of matters of public record such as a court order."); In re Salem, 465 F.3d 767, 771 (7th Cir. 2006) ("We begin with the New York cases; we take judicial notice of these dockets and opinions.").) On October 2, 2013, Defendants filed an "affidavit for wage deduction" with the state court. Doc. 1-1 at 4. On January 8, 2014, the state court entered a "wage deduction order/turnover order." Doc. 1 at ¶ 25; Doc. 21-4 at 2. (The parties agree that despite the order's being date-stamped "JAN 08, 2013, " it was in fact issued on January 8, 2014.) The order required the third-party respondent, Chicago Public Schools, to "deduct each pay period 15% of [Adams's] non-exempt gross wages" and "turn[ the wages] over to [Cavalry's] attorney... on a monthly basis." Doc. 21-4 at 2, ¶ 1.

Adams filed this lawsuit on October 24, 2014. Doc. 1.

B. Case 14 C 8123

Midland Funding, a debt collector, had been attempting to collect a $988.76 debt that Stanford Reid allegedly owed. Doc. 1 at ¶ 9. On June 18, 2013, Midland, though its counsel Blitt & Gaines, filed a collection suit against Reid in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, First Municipal District, located in Chicago. Id. at ¶¶ 10-12. Reid lived in Hazel Crest, Illinois, and the First Municipal District courthouse was roughly 25 miles from his home. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 18. By contrast, the Sixth Municipal District courthouse in Markham was just 2.6 miles from his home. Id. at ¶¶ 17, 19.

Reid did not appear in the collection case, and on August 6, 2013, the state court entered an ex parte default judgment against him for $988.76 plus costs. Doc. 1-1 at 3. On September 11, 2013, Defendants filed an "affidavit for wage deduction" with the state court. Ibid. On October 17, 2013, the state court entered a "wage deduction order/turnover order." Doc. 1 at ¶ 25; Doc. 1-1 at 4. The order was entered against garnishee defendant "United Parcel Serv." Doc. 1-1 at 4.

Reid filed this lawsuit on October 16, 2014. Doc. 1.

Discussion

I. Case 14 ...


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