United States District Court, D. Maryland
JEFFREY M. YOUNG-BEY, Plaintiff,
SOUTHERN MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, INC. and DAYE AMBERSLEY, Prop. Mgr., Defendants.
THEODORE D. CHUANC JUDGE.
30, 2018, self-represented Plaintiff Jeffrey M. Young-Bey
filed the above-captioned action, challenging the practices
of his apartment building's management company, Southern
Management Corporation ("SMC"), and its property
manager, Daye Ambersley. Young-Bey has asserted 21 causes of
action under federal and state law, including claims under
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"),
15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 (2012); the Fair Housing Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 (2012); the Maryland Consumer
Debt Collection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law, § 14-202
(West 2013); the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code
Ann., Com. Law, § 13-301; the Maryland Collection Agency
Licensing Act, Md. Code Ann., Bus. Reg. § 7 (West 2010);
and six common law tort claims. The majority of these claims
stem from Young-Bey's allegation that Defendants
commenced a series of unlawful debt collection and eviction
actions against him in the District Court of Maryland for
October 2, 2018, Young-Bey filed a Motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction, asking this
Court to enjoin at least one of those actions. On October 9,
2018, Defendants filed a memorandum in opposition to the
Motion. The Court will therefore construe the Motion as a
Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 65(a)(1) ("The court may issue a preliminary
injunction only on notice to the adverse party"). For
the reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.
about February 15, 2018, Young-Bey entered into a one-year
lease agreement for an apartment at Silver Spring Towers on
Thayer Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland. After moving into
the apartment, Young-Bey complained to SMC, the property
management company, about several defects in his apartment,
including plumbing and heating problems, only some of which
were addressed. SMC also barred Young-Bey from making rental
payments through its online payment portal. Young-Bey alleges
that, following these events, Defendants engaged in unlawful
debt collection practices and initiated a series of unlawful
eviction and debt collection proceedings against him in the
Montgomery County District Court on April 12, 2018, July 9,
2018, July 11, 2018, and July 26, 2018. In the Complaint,
Young-Bey seeks compensatory and punitive damages of $7.5
million. In his Motion, Young-Bey seeks a preliminary
injunction to halt the proceedings in the Montgomery County
District Court, scheduled for trial on October 10, 2018, and
to "enjoin the Defendants' illegal practice."
Mot. Prelim. Inj. at 2, ECF No.5.
extent that Young-Bey is asking the Court to enjoin pending
eviction or debt collection proceedings in state court, the
Court lacks the power to provide the relief that Young-Bey
seeks. Under the Anti-Injunction Act ("AIA"), this
Court may not grant "an injunction to stay the
proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized
by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its
jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its
judgments." 28 U.S.C. § 2283 (2012); see also
Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F.Supp.3d
635, 641 (D. Md. 2015); Williams v. Cohn, No.
PX-16-2886, 2016 WL 4415058, at *2 (D. Md. Aug. 19, 2016).
Consequently, the Court cannot stay or enjoin eviction or
debt collection proceedings brought against Young-Bey.
extent that the Motion could be construed as seeking an
injunction barring a certain "illegal practice" by
Defendants, whether efforts to evict Young-Bey or to collect
unpaid rent from him, the Motion likewise fails. A party
seeking a temporary restraining order or a preliminary
injunction must show (1) a likelihood of success on the
merits; (2) the moving party will suffer irreparable harm in
the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of the
equities tips in the moving party's favor; and (4)
preliminary injunctive relief is in the public interest.
Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7,
20 (2008). Temporary restraining orders and preliminary
injunctions are "extraordinary remedies involving the
exercise of very far-reaching power to be granted only
sparingly and in limited circumstances."
MicroStrategy Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., 245 F.3d 335,
339 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Direx Israel, Ltd. v.
Breakthrough Med. Corp., 952 F.2d 802, 816 (4th Cir.
Defendants' efforts to evict Young-Bey are now the
subject of the proceedings in Montgomery County District
Court, as discussed above, any injunction against such
efforts would impermissibly enjoin the state court action.
Outside of challenging his eviction, Young-Bey's federal
and state claims are premised on his allegation that
Defendants have engaged in unlawful debt collection practices
and are not authorized to seek to collect unpaid rent from
him because they are not licensed debt collectors. The FDCPA,
however, applies to entities that are "in any business
the principal purpose of which is the collection of any
debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect. . .
. debts owed or due . . . another." 15 U.S.C. §
1692a(6). SMC, however, is the lessor of Young-Bey's
apartment and therefore would not be seeking to collect a
debt owed to a third party. See Ramsey v. Sawyer Prop.
Mgmt. of Md., 948 F.Supp.2d 525, 532 (D. Md. 2013)
(holding that the FDCPA does not apply to a creditor seeking
to collect a debt in its own name).
Young-Bey is correct that Maryland law requires debt
collectors to be licensed, that requirement applies only to
entities doing business as "collection agencies."
Md. Code Ann., Bus. Reg. § 7-301. Maryland law defines a
collection agency as:
[A] person who engages directly or indirectly in the business
(1) (i) collecting for, or soliciting from another, a
consumer claim; or
(ii) collecting a consumer claim the person owns, if the
claim was in default when the person acquired it;
(2) collecting a consumer claim the person owns, using a name
or other artifice that indicates that another party is