In Huizar v. Mandarich Law Group LLP, 2013 WL 4209050 (C.D.Cal. 2013), a law firm was sued arising out of collection on an unpaid debt for the purchase of an engagement ring. The facts were as follows:
Huizar purchased an engagement ring on credit from a now-defunct jewelry store. Compl. ¶ 21. Plaintiffs allege that defendant engaged in debt collection activities in order to obtain the balance allegedly due on this loan. Id. ¶¶ 21–24. These activities included frequent phone calls to plaintiff Huizar, sometimes multiple times per day, as well as threats to garnish plaintiff Huizar’s wages and deduct funds from his checking account. Id. ¶¶ 26–32. Plaintiffs also allege that defendant contacted plaintiff Barajas numerous times, even though she was not the alleged debtor or purchaser of the engagement ring. Id. ¶ 33. This contact allegedly continued after defendant was notified that plaintiffs were represented by counsel. Id. ¶¶ 37–38. Defendant placed these phone calls to plaintiffs’ cellular telephones, without their consent, via an automatic telephone dialing system that used an artificial or prerecorded voice. Id. ¶¶ 39–40.
The District Court found the FDCPA claims adequately pleaded:
The Court finds that plaintiffs have properly pled the elements of an FDCPA claim. Defendant does not appear to dispute the first two elements of plaintiffs’ FDCPA claim, namely that plaintiffs are consumers, and that defendant is a debt collector. Robinson, 654 F.Supp.2d at 1057. As for the third element, plaintiffs have alleged multiple instances of conduct that vio-lates the FDCPA, including highly repetitious telephone calls to both plaintiffs, Compl. ¶¶ 28, 33, as well as threats to garnish plaintiff Huizar’s wages, Compl. ¶ 32, and debit his checking account, Compl. 31. This conduct could, if proven, constitute communications at an “inconvenient” time or place, 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(1), and could have “harass[ed], oppress[ed], or abuse[d]” plaintiffs, id. § 1692d. Reading the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, Sprewell, 266 F.3d at 988, it is therefore plausible that defendant has violated the FDCA. ¶ Defendant’s arguments to the contrary are unavailing. Defendant first argues that plaintiffs failed to plead their FDCPA claims with sufficient specificity. Defendant observes that plaintiffs do not provide the specific dates of defendant’s phone calls that violated the FDCPA. Def. Mot. Dismiss 5–7. While plaintiffs do not provide specific dates of telephone calls from defendant, they have alleged an approximate 16–month timeframe in which the calls took place. Compl. ¶ 25. That timeframe is sufficient to “plausibly suggest[ ]” a valid claim for relief. See Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. The Court is unaware of any authority requir-ing plaintiff to provide specific dates of telephone calls.
The District Court also found the TCPA claims related to the use of an ATDS adequately pleaded.
The TCPA proscribes the use of automatic telephone dialing equipment to call “any telephone number assigned to a … cellular telephone service … for which the called party is charged for the call,” unless an emergency exists or the call recipient provides express prior consent for the call. 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A). Here, plaintiffs allege that defendant used an automatic telephone dialing system to call each of their cellular telephones, and that they incurred charges for these calls, or were required to use prepaid cellular telephone time for the calls. Compl. ¶¶ 39–47. The Court finds that these allegations are sufficient to state a claim under the TCPA. ¶ Defendant challenges the TCPA claims by raising a factual issue as to the use by defendant of an automated telephone dialing system. Marrow Decl. ¶ 3. This argument is not well taken on a motion to dismiss, because the Court is required to accept as true the allegations in the complaint, Pareto, 139 F.3d at 699.