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Johnson v. Nowcom Corp.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 4, 2019

ALEX WILLIAMS JOHNSON Plaintiff
v.
NOWCOM CORPORATION, NEW MARKET AUTO, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JAMES K. BREDAR, CHIEF JUDGE

         This case has been marked from its beginning by confusion over the identity of the proper Defendant or Defendants. Plaintiff Alex Williams Johnson has proceeded pro se in this case claiming, inter alia, violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681x, and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 13-101-13-501 (West 2018). In the caption of Johnson's original complaint, he referred to the only Defendant as "Nowcom/New Market Auto." (Compl., ECF No. 1.) He also described the "Defendant(s)" as the following;

Defendant(s) "NOWCOM/NEW MARKET AUTO" ("Debt Collector") are limited liability corporations formed under the laws of the State of California and Maryland. They have a principled [sic] place of business located at 4751 Wilshire Blvd Ste 114, Los Angeles CA 90010 and 4453 Belair Rd, Baltimore, MD 21206.

(Id., ¶ 7.) In the rest of the complaint, Johnson sometimes referred to "the Defendant" and sometimes referred to "Defendants." After signing his name to the complaint, Johnson included a certificate of service indicating the complaint had been sent on October 31, 2018, via registered mail to Nowcom Corporation in Los Angeles and to New Market Auto in Baltimore. (Compl. at pp. 7-11 (pagination provided by CM/ECF).)

         Johnson supplied only one completed summons when he filed his case, and although some of his handwriting may be illegible, the summons appears to indicate service will be completed on the following:

Gary R. Maslan, Esquire
c/o Iman, Inc. dba New Market Auto
7508 Eastern Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21224.

(ECF No. 1-2.) In the summons, Johnson indicated the Defendant was "Nowcom Corp./New Market Auto." (Id.) The same day he filed his complaint, October 31, 2018, Johnson filed an Affidavit in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 2), which was docketed as a motion for summary judgment, and a Motion to be Heard (ECF No. 3). Neither of these filings bore the required certificate of service upon any Defendant. To the extent they are motions, they will be denied without prejudice.

         On December 10, 2018, Johnson filed a revised Affidavit in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 6) and a Notice to Take Judicial Notice (ECF No. 7). As with the earlier filings, these new filings also did not include the required certificate of service. Consequently, they, too, will be denied without prejudice.

         Apparently in response to its receipt by registered mail of Johnson's complaint, Nowcom Corporation, through counsel, filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief. (ECF No. 8.) The next day, December 11, 2018, the Clerk mailed a form letter, referred to as a "Rule 12/56 letter," to Johnson informing him he had seventeen days from the date of the letter to file any response to Nowcom's motion and, further, informing Johnson the Court may dismiss his case or enter judgment against him without further notice if he fails to respond to the motion. (ECF No. 9.) Attached to the letter was the full text of both referenced rules, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 and 56. (Id.) Besides its motion to dismiss, Nowcom also filed a motion to strike Johnson's motion for summary judgment, pointing out its prematurity. (ECF No. 10.)

         On December 21, 2018, the Clerk docketed NewMarket Auto's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 11), but because this document was filed by an individual, Mohammad Sarihifard, purportedly on New Market Auto's behalf, and because Sarihifard is not an attorney admitted to this Court's bar, the Court ordered the document stricken from the case (Order, Jan. 7, 2019, ECF No. 15); however, the Court's order was entered after the Clerk had already sent another Rule 12/56 letter to Johnson (ECF No. 12). Other than this unsuccessful attempt at self-representation, New Market Auto has made no appearance in the case.

         Johnson filed a response to Nowcom's motion to dismiss. (ECF No, 16.) He also filed a motion for Clerk's entry of default with the confusing case caption, "Alex Williams Johnson Plaintiff v. New Market Auto/Nowcom Corp. Defendant(s)," but seems to have aimed the motion only against New Market Auto (ECF No. 19); in the motion he asks the Court to enter a default judgment against New Market Auto because it did not respond within 21 days of receiving the summons (id.). To date, Johnson has failed to file an appropriate proof of service. He was provided instructions in the Court's Order dated November 5, 2018 (ECF No. 4) how to accomplish the ...


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