United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
PARIS A. ARTIS Plaintiff
T-MOBILE USA, INC., et al. Defendants
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Paris A. Artis (“Artis”), pro se, filed
this action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland against Defendants T-Mobile USA, Inc.
(“T-Mobile”) and Receivables Performance
Management, Inc. (“RPM”). On August 7, 2018,
Artis filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of Defendant
T-Mobile in the Circuit Court case. ECF No. 9-1. Since
removing the case to this Court, RPM has filed a Motion to
Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted (ECF No. 4).
following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE, and Artis will have thirty (30) days to
file an Amended Complaint pleading facts sufficient to
support his claims.
Memorandum Opinion of February 14, 2019, ECF No. 11, the
Court recites the factual background and procedural history
of the case. This Opinion will only restate the facts alleged
in Artis's Complaint relevant to RPM's Motion to
case derives from a debt Artis allegedly owes to T-Mobile
that T-Mobile retained RPM to collect. ECF No. 1-3 at
¶¶ 1-5. Artis alleges that Defendants
“initiated collection activities . . . by using
improper and deceptive characterizations of unliquidated and
non-judicially determined claims” and “violated
and failed to comply with the required debt collection
processes and procedures” under both federal and state
laws. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 4.
point prior to the beginning of this case, Artis was a
customer of T-Mobile, but he alleges that he “canceled
his account . . . due to lousy and non-responsive
service.” Id. at ¶ 11. Artis says he
“paid his bill in full, with due prorated
reimbursement, at the time of cancellation.”
Id. However, he claims that after he canceled his
account, T-Mobile “continued to send billings to [him]
and added on charges for ‘unreturned
equipment.'” Id. at ¶ 13. According
to the Complaint, T-Mobile purportedly retained RPM to
collect Artis's debt, and that RPM incorrectly informed
credit bureaus that Artis owed T-Mobile $569.00 in unpaid
charges on his account. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 15.
In his Complaint, Artis claims that RPM (and T-Mobile)
violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, the Maryland
Consumer Debt Collection Act, and committed various common
removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity of
citizenship jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. On September 14, 2018,
Artis filed a Motion to Remand the case to Prince
George's County Circuit Court, arguing that RPM's
removal was untimely. ECF No. 8. After RPM filed its
Opposition and Artis filed his Reply, the Court denied the
Motion to Remand on February 14, 2019. ECF No. 11.
Court gave Artis fourteen days to file an Opposition to
RPM's Motion to Dismiss and RPM fourteen days thereafter
to file a Reply. After the Court granted a Consent Motion to
Extend, Artis filed an Opposition to RPM's Motion to
Dismiss on March 7, 2019. ECF No. 15. But instead of using
his Opposition to rebut the claims in RPM's Motion to
Dismiss, Artis simply submitted that his Complaint is
“sufficient in substance” and asks the Court for
permission to file an Amended Complaint to clarify the claims
in the Complaint and to add certain federal claims. See
Id. RPM filed a Reply on March 21, 2019. ECF No. 17.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) prescribes “liberal
pleading standards” that require a plaintiff to submit
only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing
that [he] is entitled to relief.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). The plaintiff's statement must contain facts
sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face” in order to survive a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570
(2007). The plausibility standard requires that the plaintiff
plead facts sufficient to show by “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although a court will accept the plaintiff's factual
allegations as true, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Id. Legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations or
“unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments” do not satisfy the plausibility pleading
standard. E. Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Associates Ltd.
P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). The
complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to
apprise a defendant of “what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (internal quotations and citations omitted).
Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) requires that a party
“alleging fraud or mistake” must plead
“with particularity the circumstances constituting
fraud or mistake.” The certain
“circumstances” of a fraud or mistake claim that
must be plead with particularity are the “time, place,
and contents of the false representations, as well as the
identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what
he obtained thereby.” See Spaulding v. Wells Fargo
Bank, N.A., 714 F.3d 769, 781 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176
F.3d 776, 784 (4th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Lack of compliance with the heightened pleading
standard for claims of “fraud or mistake” is
grounds for dismissal for failure to state a claim. See
Smith v. Clark/Smoot/Russell, 796 F.3d 424, 432 (4th
Cir. 2015) (citing Harrison, 176 F.3d at 783 n.5).
courts have an “obligation to liberally construe a
pro se [c]omplaint” and may consider
additional facts and information supporting the complaint
that is provided in an opposition to a motion to dismiss.
See Rush v. Am. Home Mortg., Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist
LEXIS 112530, at *11-12 (D. Md. Dec. 3, 2009). However, this
requirement “does not transform the court into an
advocate, ” United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d
789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citations
omitted), and “[w]hile pro se complaints may
‘represent the work of an untutored hand requiring
special judicial solicitude,' a district court is not
required to recognize ‘obscure or extravagant claims
defying the most concerted efforts to unravel
them.'” Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs.,901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277
(4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088
(1986)). Although the facts alleged in a pro se