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.

Reyes v. Julia Place Condominiums Homeowners Association, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 1, 2017

NICOLE REYES, ET AL.
v.
JULIA PLACE CONDOMINIUM HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., ET AL.

         SECTION: “J” (3)

          ORDER & REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant, Steeg Law (R. Doc. 679), and Plaintiff, Nicole Reyes (R. Doc. 670).[1] The parties ask the Court to determine, inter alia, whether Steeg Law is a “debt collector” for purposes of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Having considered the motions and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that Steeg Law's motion (R. Doc. 679) should be GRANTED, and Plaintiff's motion (R. Doc. 670) should be DENIED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This case has a long history, as evidenced by more than eight-hundred docket entries. Recently, on October 12, 2016, Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles conducted a settlement conference and reported that a partial settlement was reached. (R. Doc. 785.) The settlement resolved Plaintiffs' claims against all Defendants, except Steeg Law and Julia Place Condominiums Homeowners Association, Inc. (“Julia Place”). Id. Thereafter, this Court decertified Plaintiffs' FDCPA class and usury class. (R. Doc. 804.) The present cross-motions for summary judgment relate mainly to the FDCPA and whether Steeg Law is a “debt collector.” In short, Plaintiff argues that Steeg Law is a “debt collector” as defined under the FDCPA, and Steeg Law argues to the contrary. The motions are now before the Court on the briefs and without oral argument.

         PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

         1. Plaintiff's Arguments

         Plaintiff argues that “Steeg has engaged in debt collection activity every month from February of 2008 through the filing of this lawsuit in August of 2012, and beyond.” (R. Doc. 670-1 at 1-2.) In support of her motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff submitted three exhibits- documents relied upon for the summary exhibit produced, a summary exhibit created by plaintiff of all documents, and a summary of redacted billing records-that she argues prove Steeg Law is “debt collector” as defined by the FDCPA. Id. at 3. Plaintiff argues that the exhibits demonstrate 1, 049 activities that are “directly related to collection of condominium assessments from unit owners between January 4, 2010 and December 5, 2012, ” thus making Steeg Law a “debt collector.” Id. Plaintiff further argues that Steeg Law is a debt collector because its website markets debt collection and representing condominium associations. Id. at 3.

         2. Steeg Law's Arguments

         Steeg Law argues that (1) it is not a “debt collector” under the FDCPA, (2) Plaintiff lacks a cause of action against it under Louisiana usury law, (3) Plaintiff may not claim Steeg Law was negligent because it did not owe her a duty under the law, and (4) that Plaintiff's class-wide damages are limited under the FDCPA. (R. Doc. 679-3 at 1.) As to Plaintiff's “debt collector” argument, Steeg Law asserts that Plaintiff's argument lacks evidentiary support. See (R. Doc. 708.) Specifically, Steeg Law argues that the exhibits produced by Plaintiff are based on assumptions from redacted invoices and privilege logs, and that the information produced is not proper summary judgment evidence. Id. at 1. Steeg Law further asserts that it is not a “debt collector” under the FDCPA because it does not regularly engage in debt collection, and debt collection is not its principal business. Id. at 6-18; see also (R. Doc. 708.) Steeg Law argues that its billable hours for debt collection for the two years prior to the filing of this suit constitute less than 1.5% of its annual revenue. (R. Doc. 679-3 at 7.) Further, Steeg Law argues that its collection work amounted to less than 1% of its case load in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Id. at 8. Steeg Law also argues that it sent less than thirty lien letters on behalf of its condominium association clients during the time period prescribed by this Court, and that many of those letters sought debts that were not “consumer debts” under the FDCPA. Id. at 13. Finally, Steeg Law argues that its alleged collection activities constituted less than 1.3% of its revenue in 2012, less than 1.1% in 2011, and less than 1.0% in 2010. Id. at 15. For these reasons, Steeg Law argues that it is not a debt collector under the FDCPA. Steeg Law also argues that it is not liable for any violation of Louisiana usury law, because it has not charged any allegedly usurious interest or late fees. (R. Doc. 679-3 at 18.) Further, Steeg Law argues that Plaintiff's negligence claim against it should be dismissed because it did not owe Plaintiff a duty under Louisiana law. Id. at 19. Finally, Steeg Law argues that Plaintiff's class-wide damages are limited under the FDCPA to 1% of Steeg Law's net worth. Id. at 21.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact exists, a court considers “all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.” Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398 (5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, but a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated assertions. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. A court ultimately must be satisfied that “a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Delta, 530 F.3d at 399.

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party “must come forward with evidence which would ‘entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.'” Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1264-65 (5th Cir. 1991). The nonmoving party can then defeat the motion by either countering with sufficient evidence of its own, or “showing that the moving party's evidence is so sheer that it may not persuade the reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in favor of the moving party.” Id. at 1265.

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by merely pointing out that the evidence in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who must, by submitting or referring to evidence, set out specific facts showing that a genuine issue exists. See Id. at 324. The nonmovant may not rest upon ...


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.