United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GILBERTO C. FARIAS MATOS, Plaintiff,
BUSINESS LAW GROUP, P.A. and LM FUNDING, LLC, Defendants.
GREGORY A. PRESNELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Matter comes before the Court on the Motions for Summary
Judgment (Docs. 89, 91, 92, and 118), Responses (Docs. 100,
101, 103, and 104), and Replies (Docs. 115, 119, 122, and
124) filed by: the Plaintiff; Business Law Group, P.A.
(“BLG”); and LM Funding, LLC (“LMF”).
Plaintiff, a resident of Brazil, owns property that is
subject to assessments imposed by the Lexington Place
Condominium Association, Inc.
(“Association”) The Plaintiff executed a Power of
Attorney that allowed Rodrigo Alves to negotiate, purchase,
and encumber the property, among other things, and the
Plaintiff hired Elizabeth Morales to represent him in matters
related to the rental of the Property. Morales managed the
property, which was leased from May 2016 to May 2020.
According to the Plaintiff, Alves kept him informed of things
that went on with the property, including all of the events
at issue in the instant case. Doc. 89 at 4. The Plaintiff
testified that his agent made all monthly assessment payments
from March 2017 through July 2017 on his behalf.
Plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated federal and
state debt collection practices acts while attempting to
collect allegedly overdue maintenance fees from him,
beginning with debt collection letters sent by BLG on July
19, 2017 and August 23, 2017. On September 8, 2017, BLG
recorded a Claim of Lien against the property, and it filed a
Lien Foreclosure Complaint on October 30, 2017. BLG provided
the Plaintiff with a ledger dated November 20, 2017. The
Plaintiff disputes the accuracy of that balance, because it
included assessments from April 1, 2016 through December 31,
2016, as well as from June and July of 2017. Doc. 89 at 9.
The Plaintiff has brought claims against both parties under
the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”) and against BLG under the Florida
Consumer Collection Practices
party moving for summary judgment points out an absence of
evidence on a dispositive issue for which the nonmoving party
bears the burden of proof at trial, the nonmoving party must
“go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits,
or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324-25 (1986) (internal
quotations and citation omitted). Thereafter, summary
judgment is mandated against the nonmoving party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine issue of
fact for trial. Id. at 322, 324-25. The party
opposing a motion for summary judgment must rely on more than
conclusory statements or allegations unsupported by facts.
Evers v. Gen. Motors Corp., 770 F.2d 984, 986 (11th
Cir. 1985) (“conclusory allegations without specific
supporting facts have no probative value”). The Court
must consider all inferences drawn from the underlying facts
in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion
and resolve all reasonable doubts against the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
BLG both argue that the Plaintiff lacks standing, because he
has failed to show that he suffered a concrete,
particularized injury for what are described as
“indirect” communications. However, the Plaintiff
has alleged that he was the object of allegedly false,
deceptive, or misleading representations in connection with
the collection of a debt. Accordingly, the Plaintiff has
shown that he “has suffered injury in precisely the
form the FDCPA was intended to guard against, ” and he
“need not allege any additional harm beyond the one
Congress has identified.” Prindle v. Carrington
Mortg. Servs., LLC, No. 3:13-cv-1349-J-34PDB, 2016 WL
4369424, at *9 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 16, 2016) (quoting Spokeo,
Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1549 (2016), as
revised (May 24, 2016)) (internal quotations omitted).
“Debt” under the FDCPA and FCCPA
debt at issue is made up of past due condominium association
fees. BLG and LMF argue that, because the past due fees
relate to an investment property, it is not debt for purposes
of the FDCPA. The FDCPA defines debt as “any obligation
or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out
of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or
services which are the subject of the transaction are
primarily for personal, family, or household purposes,
whether or not such obligation has been reduced to
judgment.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(5). There is some
evidence that, when the Plaintiff purchased the property, he
intended to use it personally. See Doc. 88-2 at 84.
Thus, there exists a genuine issue of material fact with
respect to whether or not the subject fees constitute debts
under the FDCPA and the FCCPA.
LMF as a “Debt Collector”'
argues that it is not a debt collector within the meaning of
the FDCPA. “The term ‘debt collector' means
any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate
commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose
of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly
collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly,
debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due
another.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692a. Although the FDCPA by
its terms only imposes liability on “debt collectors,
” and BLG is alleged to have performed the relevant
debt collection activity here, courts have held that entities
that themselves qualify as debt collectors can be held
vicariously liable for the actions of other debt collectors