United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY A. PRESNELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
4) filed by Defendant Clearlake Village Homeowner's
Association, Inc. (“Clearlake”), the Motion to
Dismiss (Doc. 9) filed by Association Financial Services
(“AFS”), and the Responses (Docs. 10 and 16)
filed by the Plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs purchased 1514 Clearlake Road # 4 in Cocoa,
Florida at a foreclosure auction on June 2, 2013. Doc. 1-1 at
4. The property is subject to the Clearlake Declaration of
Covenants and Restrictions, which states that subsequent
purchasers are not responsible for delinquent assessment fees
of any previous owner. Id. At 5. The Plaintiffs
allege that they have been repeatedly billed for the previous
owner's delinquent assessment fees. The Plaintiffs pay
their monthly assessment fees, but because they are being
held responsible for the previous owner's delinquent
fees, their fees are applied to that balance, which results
in the Plaintiffs' own assessment fees being considered
delinquent. The Plaintiffs disputed the delinquent assessment
fees for the first time just one month after purchasing the
subject property, but, according to the Plaintiffs, they
continue to be billed for the previous owner's balance,
fees, and interest. The Plaintiffs explain that collection
attempts were made by AFS in Clearlake's name,
“because AFS was collecting as Clearlake's
agent.” Doc. 16 at 4. In September of 2016, a lien was
filed in Clearlake's name. The Plaintiffs sued Clearlake
to quiet title in December of 2016, and about one year after
they filed suit, Clearlake disclosed to the Plaintiffs that
it had contracted with AFS to collect the delinquent fees.
That contract assigned the Plaintiff's allegedly
delinquent fees to AFS. Although AFS has controlled the
allegedly delinquent fees since January of 2014, AFS
attempted to collect fees from the Plaintiffs in
Clearlake's name. “On March 13, 2019, Plaintiffs
added AFS as a defendant and added class allegations in
filing their First Amended Class Action Complaint.”
Doc. 16 at 6. Clearlake filed a motion to dismiss in state
court. AFS removed the case to federal court and subsequently
moved to dismiss on April 29, 2019.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff,
see, e.g., Jackson v. Okaloosa County, Fla., 21 F.3d
1531, 1534 (11th Cir. 1994), and must limit its consideration
to the pleadings and any exhibits attached thereto.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c); see also GSW, Inc. v.
Long County, Ga., 999 F.2d 1508, 1510 (11th Cir. 1993).
The Court will liberally construe the complaint's
allegations in the Plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v.
McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). However,
“conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual deductions
or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent
dismissal.” Davila v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.,
326 F.3d 1183, 1185 (11th Cir. 2003).
reviewing a complaint on a motion to dismiss under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “courts must be
mindful that the Federal Rules require only that the
complaint contain ‘a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” U.S. v. Baxter Intern., Inc.,
345 F.3d 866, 880 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)). This is a liberal pleading requirement, one that does
not require a plaintiff to plead with particularity every
element of a cause of action. Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for
Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001).
However, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds
for his or her entitlement to relief requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554-555 (2007). The
complaint's factual allegations “must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ”
id. at 555, and cross “the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009).
Clearlake's Motion to Dismiss Counts II and IV of the
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
Plaintiffs argue that Defendant Clearlake's Motion to
Dismiss is moot due to the filing of a contemporaneous
answer. However, a partial answer does not moot a partial
motion to dismiss when the two involve different counts of
the same complaint. Cf. Beaulieu v. Bd. of Trustees of
Univ. of W. Fla., No. 3:07CV30 RVEMT, 2007 WL 2020161,
at *2 (N.D. Fla. July 9, 2007) (describing the majority view
as one in which parties “need not file an
answer while a partial motion to dismiss as pending”)
(emphasis added). Further, the Court notes that permitting
such a partial answer before a partial motion to dismiss is
filed or while it is pending serves its goal of efficient
Court declines to address Clearlake's argument that
Counts II and IV are deficient because they fail to comply
with Florida state procedural rules. In federal court,
federal procedural rules apply.
argues that Count II, which alleges that Clearlake violated
the FCCPA, should be dismissed because Clearlake is not a
debt collector. However, the FCCPA “is not restricted
to debt collectors.” Williams v. Educ. Credit Mgmt.
Corp., 88 F.Supp.3d 1338, 1343 (M.D. Fla. 2015).
AFS's Motion to Dismiss
the motion-to-dismiss stage, a complaint may be dismissed on
the basis of a statute-of-limitations defense only if it
appears beyond a doubt that Plaintiffs can prove no set of
facts that toll the statute.” Lindley v. City of
Birmingham, Ala., 515 Fed.Appx. 813, 815 (11th Cir.
2013) (quoting Tello v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc.,
410 F.3d 1275, 1288 n. 13 (11th Cir. 2005)). The Plaintiffs
have no obligation to “negate an affirmative defense in
their complaint.” La Grasta v. First Union
Sec., Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Tregenza v. Great American Communications Co., 12
F.3d 717, 718 (7th Cir.1993)). Here, it is not beyond doubt
that the Plaintiffs can prove no set of facts that permit
their claims to survive. Indeed, in the Plaintiffs'
Response, they articulate several theories as to why their
suit is not time-barred, including an argument ...