United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
and Laurina Leato, husband and wife, and Melissa Glaros, the
mother of the Leatos' five-year-old grandchild, filed
this lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"). They proceed pro se and in
forma pauperis ("IFP"). Plaintiffs have named
as Defendants Teachers Credit Union and Tri-Force, Inc. The
case is before the Court for pre-service screening pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
to the allegations of the Complaint, the Defendants are
engaged in the collection of debts within the State of
Indiana. Plaintiffs allege the principal purpose of the
Defendants' businesses is the collection of debts
allegedly owed to third parties.
the past year, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants attempted to
collect a consumer debt from them. Plaintiffs reside in
Arkansas. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants attempted to
collect a debt by means of robo-calling. Plaintiffs state the
robo-calling began after they had sent "cease and
desist" communication notices to all parties.
Plaintiffs allege that within the past year,  two identical
voicemail messages were left for Mrs. Leato. The messages
were as follows:
This message is solely intended for, Laurina Leato, if you
are not this individual please disconnect the call at this
time, and do not listen to this message. If you are Laurina
Leato, please do not hang up. This is a second documented
attempt to reach you regarding a complaint. We are in the
process of pursuing this matter, applicable to the laws of
your state. To avoid further action please press one to speak
to a claims specialist in our office. If you are unable to
speak to a claims specialist at this moment please return
this call to 704-585-8987. Again that number is 704-585-8987.
Your complaint number is 2018362740.
further allege that the voicemail messages did "not
state the call was from Tri-Force, Inc. ADAM SHAW-PRIVATE
INVESTIGATOR, skip tracers on behalf of TEACHERS CREDIT
UNION." The messages also failed to state the call was
in connection with an attempt to collect a debt.
allege that the Defendants violated the FDCPA in the
following ways: (1) failing to disclosure the caller's
identity when attempting to collect a debt; (2) engaging in
conduct that was designed to harass, oppress, and abuse
Plaintiffs in connection with the collection of a debt; (3)
threatening to take legal action when they did not intend to
take such action; (4) threatening to take action that cannot
legally be taken and was not intended to be taken; and (5)
leaving voicemail messages without stating that the
communication was an attempt to collect a debt.
Court is obligated to screen an IFP case prior to service of
process being issued. A claim is frivolous when it
"lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A
claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Court
bears in mind, however, that when "evaluating whether a
pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to
state a claim, we hold 'a pro se complaint,
however inartfully pleaded, ... to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'"
Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
first issue the Court must address is whether each of the
named Plaintiffs has standing to pursue this case. Article
III of the United States Constitution extends the
"judicial power" of the federal courts only to
concrete "Cases" and "Controversies."
U.S. Const, art. Ill. § 2. "To have standing, a
'plaintiff must have ... suffered an injury in
fact.'" Demarais v. Gurstel Chargo, P.A.,
869 F.3d 685, 690 (8th Cir. 2017) (quoting Spokeo,
Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016)). The
Eighth Circuit summarized the concept as follows:
To establish injury in fact, a plaintiff must show that he or
she suffered an invasion of a legally protected interest that
is concrete and particularized and actual or imminent, not
conjectural or hypothetical. A concrete injury must be de
facto; that is, it must actually exist. Both tangible
and intangible injuries can be concrete. At [the screening