United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
REPORT & RECOMMENDATION
Patricia D. Barksdale, United States Magistrate Judge
unfair-debt-collection case, Tina Proescher moves for default
judgment against Security Collection Agency
(“SCA”). Doc. 13. The undersigned
conducted an evidentiary hearing on the motion on January 31,
2018. Doc. 12 (minutes); Doc. 14
Complaint and Exhibits
complaint and through two exhibits to the complaint,
Proescher alleges these facts.
resides in Duval County. Doc. 1 ¶ 4. SCA
conducts business in Duval County. Doc. 1 ¶ 5.
On May 3, 2016, Proescher was in a car accident, and the City
of Jacksonville's Fire and Rescue Department transported
her from the accident by ambulance. Doc. 1 ¶ 8.
She suffered injuries from the accident and retained counsel.
Doc. 1 ¶ 9. After insurance, she owed $135 for
the transportation. Doc. 1 ¶ 10. On June 20,
2017, her counsel sent a $135 check on her behalf to the City
of Jacksonville. Doc. 1 ¶ 11; Doc.
1-1. The check was cashed. Doc. 1 ¶ 12.
Unbeknownst to Proescher, the City of Jacksonville
transferred the account to SCA. Doc. 1 ¶ 13.
SCA mailed a letter dated August 4, 2017, from its address in
Edenton, North Carolina, to Proescher's address in
THIS IS YOUR OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION THAT WE ARE
REPORTING YOUR DELINQUENT DEBT TO THE NATIONAL CREDIT
BUREAUS-EQUIFAX AND TRANS UNION
We have given you ample time to respond to our previous
request for payment of your account. Your lack of commitment
to settle this account can only lead us to the conclusion
that you do not intend to pay this debt.
This is your official notification that we are proceeding
with collection efforts against you as permitted by State and
Federal regulations. You control the next step in the
collection process. Do not ignore this notice. It is in your
best interest to pay this bill in full so that we may inform
the credit bureaus that your debt is satisfied.
Mail your check or money order for the full amount due to our
office in the envelope provided. Write the File Number on
your check or money order so that we may credit your account
properly. You may also go to our website listed below and pay
with a credit or debit card or by electronic check payment.
Credit, debit, and electronic check payments will
appear on your statement under our corporate name Applied
Business Services, Inc.
APPLIED BUSINESS SERVICES
This is an attempt by a debt collector to collect a
debt; any information obtained will be used for that
Doc. 1-2. SCA “is reporting the balance as
being owed on [her] credit report.” Doc. 1
¶ 15. Proescher “suffers from mental and physical
distress” because she thought the debt had been paid,
she did not understand why she was receiving the statement
for a debt for which she was no longer responsible, and she
was upset that the debt was reported to credit bureaus.
Doc. 1 ¶¶ 19, 28.
approximately a month of receiving the letter, Proescher
sued. Doc. 1. She brings two causes of action. In
the first, she contends SCA tried to collect a debt
previously paid, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§§ 1692-1692p. Doc. 1 ¶¶
16-20. In the second, she contends SCA claimed, attempted, or
threatened to enforce a debt even though it knew or should
have known the debt was illegitimate, in violation of the
Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
(“FCCPA”), Fla. Stat. §§
559.55-559.785, Doc. 1 ¶¶ 21-28.
demands a trial by jury, statutory damages of $1000 under
15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2)(A), statutory damages
of $1000 under Fla. Stat. § 559.77(2), actual
damages, costs, attorney's fees, “injunctive and
declaratory relief regarding further collection attempts,
” and “all other relief to which [she] is
entitled.” Doc. 1 at 5.
Return of Service, Motions for Default and Default Judgment,
and Amended Motion for Default
December 13, 2017, Proescher filed a return of service signed
by a licensed process server in which he states he served a
true copy of the summons, complaint, and exhibits on October
12, 2017, at 2:50 p.m., on Donna Mock as the registered agent
for SCA, doing business as Applied Business Services, Inc.,
and informed her of the contents. Doc. 4.
the return of service, Proescher moved for entry of default,
Doc. 5, and the clerk entered default, Doc.
6. She then filed a two-page motion for default
judgment, Doc. 7, a one-sentence affidavit by
counsel stating “the allegations in the Complaint
against Defendant are true, ” Doc. 7-1, and a
proposed final default judgment stating, “Plaintiff,
Tina Proescher, shall recover from Defendant, Security
Collection Agency d/b/a Applied Business Services, Inc. in
the amount of $20, 725.00 in damages, costs in the amount of
$525.24, and attorney's fees of $1, 581.00, for a total
of $22, 831.27, which shall bear interest at the rate of
4.97% annum until paid for which let execution issue.”
undersigned directed Proescher to file an amended motion that
stated the damages and attorney's fees sought and
contained a memorandum of law addressing whether service of
process was proper, whether the Court has personal
jurisdiction over SCA, whether the allegations in the
complaint state a claim on which relief may be granted, and
the reasonableness of any requested attorney's fees.
filed a two-page amended motion for entry of default
judgment, Doc. 9, a proposed final default judgment,
Doc. 9-1, and a separate memorandum of law. Doc.
9-2. In the memorandum, she set forth the procedural
history and factual allegations; stated SCA had mailed her
counsel a letter on November 2, 2017, indicating it would
correct its mistakes; and stated her counsel had urged an SCA
representative to formally respond to the complaint. Doc.
9-2 ¶¶ 1-14. For the FDCPA cause of action,
she contended she “has suffered emotional distress and
anxiety because of fear of being sued by Defendant or that
her credit would continue to plunge as a result of
Defendant's reporting of the debt.” Doc.
9-2 ¶ 20. For the FCCPA cause of action, she
contended SCA violated Fla. Stat. § 559.72(9)
and “[SCA] is obviously not taking this lawsuit
seriously. They sent the undersigned correspondence in
November of 2017 acknowledging their mistakes and that they
would be correcting them. It was only until this lawsuit was
filed did they correct the issues.” Doc. 9-2
¶¶ 22, 26. For attorney's fees and costs, her
28. The undersigned has been admitted to practice law since
29. The undersigned works at ¶ 250.00/hourly rate.
30. The undersigned has a paralegal with over 27 years of
experience who works at $125.00 an hour.
31. The undersigned has spent a total of 7.3 hours of
attorney time in this case.
32. The undersigned's paralegal has spent a total of 1.2
hours of time in this case.
33. The undersigned has incurred costs in the amount of
$525.00 in this case.
Doc. 9-2 ¶¶ 28-33. The proposed final
judgment states, “Plaintiff, Tina Proescher, shall
recover from Defendant, Security Collection Agency d/b/a
Applied Business Services, Inc. in the amount of $15, 000 in
actual damages, $5, 000.00 in punitive damages, costs in the
amount of $525.00, and attorney's fees of $1975.00, for a
total of $22, 500.00, which shall bear interest at the rate
of 4.97% per annum until paid for which let execution
issue.” Doc. 9-1.
undersigned issued an order stating the Court would
“conduct an evidentiary hearing” on the amended
motion for default judgment and damages. Doc. 10.
evidentiary hearing, Proescher's counsel pinpointed
§ 807(2)(A) of the FDCPA, codified at 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692e(2)(A), as the FDCPA section under which she
was proceeding. Doc. 14 at 4. He offered, and the
undersigned admitted, seven exhibits. Doc. 14 at 3.
They are exhibits to the complaint, the clerk's entry of
default, the amended motion for default judgment, two letters
from SCA sent after the lawsuit began, and an affidavit by
Proescher. Docs. 12-1-12-8. In one letter, dated October 20,
2017, SCA states:
Dear Tina Proescher,
The above referenced account, regarding date of service
5/13/16, is being removed from your credit file. The request
has been sent to the credit bureau. It may take the credit
bureau up to 60 days to remove the listing. If the account is
still being shown on your credit file you may dispute with
the credit bureau.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
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