United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
CHRISTOPHER L. RAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pro se, Todd McElroy was ordered to amend his civil
rights complaint to elucidate the federal claim he was
leveling against defendant. Doc. 4. McElroy has filed an
Amended Complaint which does not even begin to clarify
matters. See doc. 5 (copying large swaths of
statutory language in lieu of setting forth factual
allegations). Rather than answering the Court's request
for clarification, he explains that
Lack of personal jurisdiction - I was not properly served
with the summon and Mark A. Moore since Sheriff Deputy with
summon served to come at my house.
Standing - I don't have a relationship with Mark A.
Usury - the amount of interest sought exceeds the rate
permitted by law;
Unclean Hands - Mark A. Moore has acted improperly and
thereby caused his own damages.
All of above for violations of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (FDCPA) in which the collection agency or its
attorney used false, misleading, or harassing means to
collect the debt.
Doc. 5 at 1.
other words, McElroy believes that Lazega & Johnson
LLC's conduct - initiating a collection action against
him and then ceasing that effort when he demanded
verification of the debt owed - was somehow unlawful. The
Court was already aware of these allegations. But he has not
alleged any actual facts supporting that belief. His
“facts” section is mere legal conclusions, and
does not address the deficiencies identified in the
Court's screening order. Compare docs. 4 &
forth in that Order (doc. 4), the FDCPA prohibits debt
collectors from using “any false, deceptive, or
misleading representation or means in connection with the
collection of any debt” as well as the use of
“unfair or unconscionable” means of collection.
15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e and 1692f. Subsection 1692e(5)
prohibits a debt collector from “threatening to take
action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended
to be taken.” It further states that, if the consumer
disputes the debt, the debt collector must cease collection
efforts unless and until verification of the debt is
provided. 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b) (emphasis supplied).
Nothing in McElroy's amendment indicates that Unifund
(the original debt holder) or Lazega & Johanson (the law
firm collecting the debt on Unifund's behalf) and Mark A.
Moore (the attorney that signed the collection letter)
violated the FDCPA. As previously explained:
Plaintiff's own Complaint implies that the state
collection action was dismissed once he
“counterclaim[ed]” - i.e., McElroy did
not dispute the debt until after Unifund went to the state
court. Doc. 1 at 4. Thus, going to the state court prior to
McElroy's request to verify the debt did not run afoul of
the FDCPA. Indeed, it appears that once McElroy demanded
verification of the debt, Unifund/Lazega & Johanson
ceased their collection activities. See doc. 1 at 16
(dismissal without prejudice pursuant to O.C.G.A. §
9-11-41(a)). That immediate cessation of collection efforts,
of course, was precisely what the debt collectors were
required to do pursuant to § 1692(g).
As pleaded, in other words, McElroy has shown nothing more
than compliance with the FDCPA. He certainly has not
shown any harm flowing from Unifund/Lazega &
Johanson's activities. His mere annoyance or concern that
he even had to demand a debt verification to trigger the
cessation of collection efforts, of course, is not enough to
sustain a claim under the FDCPA. And absolutely nothing about
his Complaint, aside from listing benefits as the source of