United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION
REBECCA R. PALLMEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
2018, Plaintiff Nita Africano-Domingo received a letter from
Defendant Miller & Steeno, P.C. seeking to collect a $1,
678.69 debt on behalf of Defendant DNF Associates, LLC. The
letter identifies Kay Jewelers as the “Original
Creditor” and DNF Associates LLC as the “current
owner of the unpaid account.” Ms. Africano-Domingo
alleges that the letter failed to effectively identify the
creditor to whom the debt is owed, and failed to specify that
she had 30 days to request the name and address of her
original creditor, both in violation of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692, et seq. Defendants Miller & Steeno
and DNF Associates jointly moved to dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint. For the reasons stated below, Defendants'
motion to dismiss  is denied in part and granted in part.
suit arises from a letter sent by Defendant Miller &
Steeno to Plaintiff Africano-Domingo seeking payment of a
delinquent consumer credit account originally owed to Kay
Jewelers. (Compl.  ¶ 11.) According to the
allegations in the complaint, deemed true for purposes of
this motion, Defendant DNF Associates purchased the alleged
debt and retained Defendant Miller & Steeno to collect
the debt on its behalf. (Id. ¶ 13.) Miller
& Steeno sent a letter to Plaintiff on June 18, 2018 that
identifies Kay Jewelers as the “Original
Creditor” and states that DNF Associates LLC is the
“current owner of the unpaid account.”
(Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Nowhere in the letter is
an entity specifically identified as the “current
creditor.” (Id. ¶ 21.) A subsequent
paragraph of the letter states, in full:
Unless you notify us within thirty (30) days after receipt of
this letter that you dispute the validity of the debt, or any
portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by this
office. If you notify us, in writing, within thirty days,
that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, we will
obtain verification of it and a copy of the verification will
be mailed to you. If requested, in writing, we will also
provide you with the name and address of the original
creditor, if different from your current creditor.
(Collection Letter, Ex. D to Compl.)
alleges that Defendants violated the FDCPA in two ways.
First, because the letter identifies only an original
creditor, a current owner of the account, and a debt
collector, it does not identify the current creditor to whom
the debt is owed, as required by Section 1692g of the FDCPA.
(Compl. ¶ 40.); see also 15 U.S.C. §
1692g(a)(2) (“[A] debt collector shall . . . send the
consumer a written notice containing the name of the creditor
to whom the debt is owed.”). As a result, Plaintiff
alleges that she was confused “as to whom, exactly, the
debt was allegedly owed.” (Compl. ¶ 23.) Second,
while the letter states that Plaintiff must dispute the debt
or request verification of the debt in writing within 30 days
of receipt of the letter, the letter does not state that she
has only 30 days to request the name and address of the
original creditor, as required by Section 1692g. See
15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(5) (“[A] debt collector shall
. . . send the consumer a written notice containing a
statement that, upon the consumer's written request
within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide
the consumer with the name and address of the original
creditor, if different from the current creditor.”);
(Compl. ¶ 41.) Because the letter does not repeat the
30-day deadline in the creditor verification sentence,
Plaintiff alleges that she “may unknowingly waive her
right to obtain information regarding the original
creditor.” (Id. ¶ 28.)
now move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Defendants first contend that the
letter fully complies with Section 1692g(a)(2) because the
language identifying DNF Associates LLC as the “current
owner of the unpaid account” states the identity of the
current creditor “clearly enough that the recipient is
likely to understand it.” (Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of
Mot. to Dismiss (“Def.'s MTD”)  at 3
(quoting Janetos v. Fulton Friedman & Gullace,
LLP, 825 F.3d 317, 321 (7th Cir. 2016)).) Defendants
next assert that the letter complies with Section 1692g(a)(5)
because, while it does not repeat that Plaintiff has 30 days
to request the identity of the original creditor in that
sentence, the 30-day limit is identified twice in the same
paragraph. (Def.'s MTD at 4.) The average debtor,
Defendants contend, is “capable of making basic logical
deductions and inferences” and “can deduce that .
. . she has thirty days to send a letter” requesting
verifying information. (Id.) Defendants last argue
that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring her FDCPA claims
because she has not alleged that she suffered any concrete
injury as a result of Defendants' conduct. (Id.
at 5.) The court construes that portion of Defendants'
motion as a challenge to the court's subject-matter
jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) 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.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In deciding a motion to
dismiss, the court accepts the well-pleaded factual
allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Kubiak v. City of
Chicago, 810 F.3d 476, 480-81 (7th Cir. 2016). The court
may consider the complaint, “documents that are
attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the
complaint and referred to in it, and information that is
properly subject to judicial notice.” Williamson v.
Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).
court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the case if the
plaintiff lacks standing to sue. The plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing that she has standing. Diedrich v.
Ocwen Loan Serv., LLC, 839 F.3d 583, 588 (7th Cir.
2016). In reviewing a facial challenge to a plaintiff's
standing, the court presumes the truth of “all material
allegations in the complaint” and draws all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Remijas v. Neiman
Marcus Group, LLC, 794 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2015).
When, however, standing is challenged as a factual matter,
the court “may properly look beyond the jurisdictional
allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has
been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact
subject matter jurisdiction exists.” Apex Digital,
Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 444 (7th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Evers v. Astrue, 536 F.3d 651,
656-57 (7th Cir. 2008)).
comply with the FDCPA, a debt collector must include certain
information in either “the initial communication with a
consumer in connection with the collection of any debt,
” or in a notice sent within five days of the initial
communication. 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a). In particular, the
debt collector must clearly identify the creditor to whom the
debt is owed, 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(2), and provide the
debtor with written notice that he or she may request
information about the original creditor, if different from
the current creditor, upon written request within 30 days of
receipt of the letter. 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(5). A debt
collector violates Section 1692g by either “fail[ing]
to provide required information or provid[ing] required
information ‘in a manner that is confusing to the
consumer.'” Osideko v. L J Ross Assocs.,
Inc., No. 18 C 3147, 2019 WL 1915666, at *1 (N.D. Ill.
Apr. 30, 2019) (quoting McMillan v. Collection
Prof'ls, Inc., 455 F.3d 754, 758 (7th Cir. 2006)). A
court evaluates the potential for confusion “through
the eyes of the unsophisticated consumer.” Wahl v.
Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 556 F.3d 643, 645 (7th Cir.
Rule 12(b)(1) ...