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Awah v. Capital One Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 11, 2016




Presently pending and ready for resolution in this consumer case are the following motions: (1) a partial motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Capital One Bank, N.A. (“Defendant”) (ECF No. 32); (2) a motion for enlargement of time to file a status report filed by Plaintiff Edmund Awah (“Plaintiff”) (ECF No. 44); (3) a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant (ECF No. 48); and (4) a motion to remand filed by Plaintiff (ECF No. 54). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be granted. Plaintiff’s motion to remand will be denied. Plaintiff’s request for a time extension and Defendant’s partial motion to dismiss will be denied as moot.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff maintained a checking account (the “Account”) and line of credit (the “Line of Credit”) with Defendant. The accounts were linked to prevent an overdraft of funds from the Account. (ECF No. 48-1, at 2). In October 2011, the Account and Line of Credit reflected a balance due of $570.39. (ECF Nos. 34 ¶ 2). On October 19, Plaintiff deposited two checks - check number 680 for $506.52 and check number 681 for $70.39 -toward the outstanding balance on the Line of Credit. (ECF Nos. 53-4, at 2; 53-5, at 2). Plaintiff alleges that “Defendant did not credit Plaintiff’s checking accounts with the two check deposits.” (ECF No. 34 ¶ 8). According to Plaintiff, “[he] made several efforts to find out from Defendant the reasons for not crediting Plaintiff’s checking accounts with the two check deposits. Defendant failed to provide any rational reason.” (ECF No. 34 ¶ 9). Plaintiff’s Account Statement, however, reflects that Plaintiff’s payment of $506.52 was applied to the Line of Credit balance on October 19, leaving Plaintiff with a $0.00 balance and $500.00 of available credit. (ECF No. 48-5, at 2, 4). The same Account Statement appears to reflect indirectly Plaintiff’s payment of $70.39. Included on a list of transactions concerning the Account is a customer deposit of $80.39 on October 19. According to Defendant, the customer deposit constitutes Plaintiff’s $70.39 payment and an overdraft fee reversal. (ECF Nos. 55, at 6; 48-5, at 6).

The Line of Credit continued to reflect a $0.00 balance the following month. (ECF No. 48-6, at 2, 4). In November 2011, the Line of Credit was closed, and the corresponding Account Statement includes no information concerning the Line of Credit. (See ECF No. 48-7, at 2). Plaintiff subsequently contacted Defendant to reopen the Line of Credit, and Defendant reopened the Line of Credit on or about December 21. (ECF Nos. 49, at 2-3; 48-8, at 2). Plaintiff used the Line of Credit and the overdraft protection it provided for the Account. In February and March 2012, Plaintiff used $500.00 - all of his available credit. (ECF No. 48-1, at 3). On February 16, Plaintiff transferred $200.00 from the Line of Credit to cover an overdraft on the Account. (ECF No. 48-9, at 4). He transferred an additional $100.00 into the Account on February 27, February 28, and March 5. (ECF No. 48-10, at 4). Plaintiff failed to make any payment toward the Line of Credit after October 19, 2011. (ECF No. 48-1, at 4 (citing ECF No. 48-3 ¶ 11)).

Defendant’s representatives communicated with Plaintiff during March and April 2012 seeking payment toward the outstanding balance of the Line of Credit. (See ECF No. 49, at 4-5). Plaintiff failed to make any payment. On April 9, Defendant sent Plaintiff a letter informing him that his Line of Credit “has been BLOCKED against future advance activity, due to the following principal reason: Delinquency.” (ECF No. 48-11, at 2). Defendant’s representatives continued to communicate with Plaintiff and seek payment. (See ECF No. 49, at 5-11). On June 23, Defendant’s representative advised Plaintiff that the Line of Credit “would be charged off (i.e., cancelled and his debt written off) if he failed to pay by the following month.” (ECF No. 48-1, at 4 (citing ECF No. 49, at 11)). On or about August 2, Defendant charged off the Line of Credit and made no further attempts to contact Plaintiff. (Id. (citing ECF No. 49, at 14)). Plaintiff alleges that “Defendant then proceeded to file a false and derogatory report on Plaintiff’s [c]redit [f]ile with the three [c]redit [b]ureaus. The report was not only false, it was malicious since Defendant reported an outstanding balance of $1244.00 instead of $570.39.” (ECF No. 34 ¶ 12). According to Plaintiff, he “disputed the false entries on Plaintiff’s [c]redit [f]ile by Defendant with the [c]redit [b]ureaus.” (Id. ¶ 13). Furthermore, Plaintiff contends that “[f]rom late 2011 through early 2013, Defendant placed a constant barrage of harassing telephone calls telephone calls to Plaintiff demanding the payment of the balance of the Line of Credit.” (Id. ¶ 14).

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, first sued Defendant in this court on March 7, 2013. See Awah v. Capital One Bank, Case No. 13-CV-00706 (D.Md. 2013). Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss his complaint voluntarily and without prejudice was granted on September 19, 2013. Plaintiff, again proceeding pro se, commenced this action in the District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County by filing a complaint against Defendant on February 11, 2014. (ECF No. 2). Defendant removed the action to this court on April 16, 2014, citing federal question jurisdiction as the jurisdictional basis. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff’s complaint alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., because Defendant allegedly “filed a derogatory report on Plaintiff’s credit file.” (ECF No. 2, at 1).

By memorandum opinion and order on January 22, 2015, the court adjudicated Plaintiff’s motion to remand, motion for leave to file an amended complaint, and Defendant’s motion to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 19; 20). The court noted that, at the time of removal, Plaintiff’s complaint expressly indicated that his action was premised on alleged violations of the FDCPA, a federal statute, and thus removal was proper. (ECF No. 19, at 6). Following removal, Plaintiff sought to amend his complaint, indicating that he no longer asserted claims under the FDCPA, instead opting to proceed under the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (“MCDCA”), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 14-201 et seq. (ECF No. 16). The court permitted Plaintiff to file an amended complaint and observed: “If the new complaint does not state a federal cause of action and Plaintiff’s only viable claims pertain to Defendant’s methods of collection under MCDCA, then the court may exercise its discretion and remand the case to state court.” (ECF No. 19, at 7-8 (emphasis added)).

On February 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, asserting violations of the MCDCA and requesting actual damages in the amount of $100, 000 and $200, 000 in punitive damages. (ECF No. 21). Defendant answered the amended complaint on February 27. (ECF No. 22). The court entered a scheduling order on March 2, implicitly deciding not to remand the supplemental state law claims. (ECF No. 24). On March 18, Plaintiff again sought leave to amend his complaint. (ECF No. 30). Defendant did not oppose the motion. The court issued an order on April 6, allowing Plaintiff to file a second amended complaint. (ECF No. 31). Plaintiff filed the second amended complaint, adding claims against Defendant in Count II under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 13-301 et seq. (ECF No. 34). Plaintiff demands, inter alia, “compensatory and punitive relief in an amount to be determined at trial.” (Id. at 4). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff again moved to remand the action to state court (ECF No. 36). The court denied Plaintiff’s motion to remand, determining that “[t]here is no question that the court maintains subject matter jurisdiction over the claims and the only issue is whether it should exercise its discretion and remand. Here, a scheduling order has already been issued and the parties are well into discovery.” (ECF No. 42, at 5-6). Accordingly, the court chose not to remand the action to state court.

Defendant filed a partial motion to dismiss Count II of the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 32). Plaintiff responded in opposition (ECF No. 35), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 37). On June 26, Plaintiff filed a motion for an extension of time to file a status report (ECF No. 44), which Defendant opposed (ECF No. 46). Plaintiff, however, filed a status report on July 8. (ECF No. 45).[1] Defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims in the second amended complaint. (ECF No. 48). Plaintiff was provided with a Roseboro notice, which advised him of the pendency of the summary judgment motion and his entitlement to respond within 17 days. (ECF No. 50); see Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4th Cir. 1975) (holding that pro se plaintiffs should be advised of their right to file responsive material to a motion for summary judgment). Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 53), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 55). Plaintiff filed a “motion on remand” on September 29 (ECF No. 54), which Defendant opposed (ECF No. 56).[2]

II. Defendant’s Motion for ...

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