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Hesford v. Jefferson Capital System

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

January 7, 2019

JOSHUA HESFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON CAPITAL SYSTEM, Defendant.

          ORDER

          C.J. Williams United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on defendant's Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, filed on December 5, 2018. (Doc. 8). Plaintiff had fourteen days from the date of defendant's motion to file a resistance. LR 7(e). Plaintiff has not filed a resistance or a motion to extend the time to file a resistance. For the reasons set forth herein, defendant's Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed a small-claims petition (the “complaint”) against defendant in the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Iowa. (Doc. 2). The complaint is a small-claims form that directs the plaintiff to fill in the amount demanded and “state briefly the basis for the demand.” (Doc. 2, at 1). Plaintiff stated that the basis for his claim is:

Violating FCRA.[1] They did not inform me that they had an account in my name or that they would report negative information to my credit report. I did not have a chance to dispute before this was added to my credit report. They are falsely reporting that I owe them money when it is another agency.

(Id.). Defendant answered the complaint in state court, and timely removed this case, asserting that the Court has federal question jurisdiction. (Docs. 1; 1-2, at 5-6). 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1446(b)(1). Defendant then filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under the FCRA. (Doc. 6). The Court found that plaintiff's complaint alleged that defendant violated the FCRA in four ways:

1) Defendant failed to inform plaintiff that defendant had an account in plaintiff's name;
2) Defendant failed to notify plaintiff that it would report negative information to plaintiff's credit report;
3) Defendant did not provide claimant an opportunity to dispute the negative information; and
4) Defendant reported false information to plaintiff's credit report.

(Doc. 7). The Court found that defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings only addressed two of plaintiff's four claims, and the Court denied the motion with leave to refile within twenty-one days. (Id.). Defendant timely filed its Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (Doc. 8).

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         Defendant filed the instant motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). (Doc. 8). A party may file a motion for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “The pleadings are ‘closed' after the complaint and answer are filed, along with any reply to additional claims asserted in the answer.” Arnold v. New Jersey, Civ. No. 03-3997 (WHW), 2007 WL 1381757, at *2 (D.N.J. May 9, 2007); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a); Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1367 (3d ed. 2018) (“Rule 7(a) provides that the pleadings are closed upon the filing of a complaint and an answer (absent a court-ordered reply), unless a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim is interposed, in which event the filing of a reply to a counterclaim, cross-claim answer, or third-party answer normally will mark the close of the pleadings.”) (footnote omitted). Defendant has answered plaintiff's complaint, and there is no trial date set in this matter, so defendant's motion is procedurally proper under Rule 12(c).

         The court analyzes a Rule 12(c) motion under the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Ashley County, Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir.2009). Under the Rule 12(b)(6) standard, “to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc., 833 F.3d 903, 910 (8th Cir. 2016) (citations and internal quotations omitted). Courts liberally construe pro se complaints to determine if the essence of the allegation is discernable. Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 849 (8th Cir. 2014). However, the Court will not create claims not clearly raised by a pro se plaintiff. White v. Polk Cty. Attorney's ...


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