United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION & ORDER
E. DOWDELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Michael Hargis has brought this putative class action against
Equinox Collection Services, Inc. (“Equinox”), a
debt collector, alleging violations of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692 et seq. Plaintiff alleges that Equinox,
in attempting to collect on a disputed medical bill on behalf
of its client, Dr. ZZZ's Sleep Center, Inc. (“Dr.
ZZZ's”), sent Plaintiff a collection letter that
violated certain provisions under 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a).
Plaintiff alleges three separate violations: (1) that the
letter failed to properly identify the name of the creditor
to whom the debt was owed, (2) that the letter improperly
required consumers to notify Equinox of debt disputes in
writing, and (3) that it failed to inform consumers that
requests for the name and address of the original creditor
needed to be in writing. (Doc. 2 at 6-8). Plaintiff asserts
that he and the putative class are entitled to an award of
statutory damages, as well as costs and attorney's fees.
(Id. at 7). Plaintiff also seeks a declaratory
judgment finding that the collection letter violates the
has moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for dismissal of
Plaintiff's case based on a lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. (Doc. 24). Citing the Supreme Court case
Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540 (2016),
Equinox asserts that Plaintiff has failed to satisfy the
injury-in-fact demands of Article III standing.
12(b)(1) motions generally take the form of either a facial
or a factual attack. Paper, Allied-Indus., Chem. &
Energy Workers Int'l Union v. Cont'l Carbon Co.,
428 F.3d 1285, 1292 (10th Cir. 2005) (citing Holt v.
United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002-03 (10th Cir. 1995)).
“Under a facial attack, the movant merely challenges
the sufficiency of the complaint, requiring the district
court to accept the allegations in the complaint as
true.” Id. In contrast, the movant bringing a
factual attack “goes beyond the allegations in the
complaint and challenges the facts upon which subject matter
jurisdiction depends.” Id. When reviewing a
factual attack, the district court “may not presume the
truthfulness of the complaint's factual
allegations” and, instead, “has wide discretion
to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited
evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional
facts.” Holt, 46 F.3d at 1003. In this case,
because Equinox's 12(b)(1) motion is accompanied by
supporting evidence, the Court construes the motion as a
factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction.
Court must then consider whether conversion of Equinox's
12(b)(1) motion into a Rule 56 summary judgment motion is
appropriate here. The Tenth Circuit has instructed that a
district court must convert a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss into
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion or a Rule 56 summary judgment motion
“when resolution of the jurisdictional question is
intertwined with the merits of the case.” Id.
In other words, the district court must determine
“whether resolution of the jurisdictional question
requires resolution of an aspect of the substantive
claim.” Pringle v. United States, 208 F.3d
1220, 1223 (10th Cir. 2000).
Court finds that it may consider evidence outside of the
complaint in this case without converting Equinox's
12(b)(1) motion into one for summary judgment. There is
essentially one issue raised by the substantive claims in
this case: whether Equinox violated the requirements set out
in § 1692g(a) of the FDCPA. The Court need not resolve
this issue in order to rule on standing, as will become clear
in the Court's analysis below.
III . . . gives the federal courts jurisdiction over only
‘cases and controversies,' and the doctrine of
standing serves to identify those disputes which are
appropriately resolved through the judicial process.”
Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 154-55 (1990).
The Supreme Court has set forth three elements that
constitute “the irreducible constitutional minimum of
standing.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504
U.S. 555, 560 (1992). In order to have standing, the
plaintiff must have “(1) suffered an injury in fact,
(2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the
defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a
favorable judicial decision.” Spokeo, Inc. v.
Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016) (citing
Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61; Friends of the Earth,
Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167,
180-81 (2000)). Importantly, “[t]he party invoking
federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing these
elements.” Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561.
order to satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement, a plaintiff
must show that he “suffered ‘an invasion of a
legally protected interest' that is ‘concrete and
particularized' and ‘actual or imminent, not
conjectural or hypothetical.'” Spokeo,
Inc., 136 S.Ct. at 1548 (quoting Lujan, 504
U.S. at 560). “For an injury to be
‘particularized,' it ‘must affect the
plaintiff in a personal and individual way.'”
Id. (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 n.1).
To meet the concreteness requirement, the injury “must
actually exist.” Id. It must be
“real” and not “abstract.”
harm may still qualify as “concrete, ” and courts
are instructed to consider both history and the judgment of
Congress in determining whether a particular intangible harm
constitutes injury in fact. Id. at 1549. As
explained by the Court in Spokeo, “[i]t is
instructive to consider whether an alleged intangible harm
has a close relationship to a harm that has traditionally
been regarded as providing a basis for a lawsuit in English
or American courts.” Id. Congress may also
“define injuries and article chains of causation that
will give rise to a case or controversy where none existed
before.” Id. (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S.
at 580 (Kennedy, J., concurring in part and concurring in
plaintiff does not “automatically satisf[y] the
injury-in-fact requirement whenever a statute grants a person
a statutory right and purports to authorize that person to
sue to vindicate that right.” Id. One may not
“allege a bare procedural violation, divorced from any
concrete harm, and satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement of
Article III.” Id. Whereas some alleged
procedural violations may be sufficient to constitute injury
in fact, others may not cause harm or present any material
risk of harm. Id. In the latter cases, a plaintiff
would need to allege “additional harm beyond
the one Congress has identified.” Id.
(emphasis in original).
Spokeo, the Supreme Court addressed the
injury-in-fact requirement in the context of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act of 1970 (“FCRA”). The Court found
that the Ninth Circuit had failed to address whether the
particular procedural violations alleged in the case
“entail[ed] a degree of risk sufficient to meet the
concreteness requirement.” Id. at 1550. On
remand, the Ninth Circuit understood the Supreme Court as
establishing a two-part inquiry for evaluating claims based
on statutory violations:
In evaluating [plaintiff's] claim of harm, we thus ask:
(1) whether the statutory provisions at issue were
established to protect his concrete interests (as opposed to
purely procedural rights), and if so, (2) whether the
specific procedural violations alleged in this case actually
harm, or present a material risk of harm to, such interests.
Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., 867 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th
Cir. 2017). The Sixth Circuit has interpreted Spokeo
in a similar manner, finding that statutory violations fall