In Riding v. Cach LLC, 2014 WL 198764 (C.D.Cal. 2014), Judge Lew found an FDCPA claim premised on collection of a state court lawsuit only partially barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
The Court notes that Plaintiff provides different grounds as the basis for his FDCPA claims. Specifically, Plaintiff’s FDCPA §§ 1692d, 1692e, and 1692f claims are based on (1) Defendants’ pursuit of payment for a debt incurred by Plaintiff, which Plaintiff maintains he never incurred, and (2) Defendants’ alleged use of improper collection methods to collect that debt. As to the first ground-Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated §§ 1692e, 1692e (10), and 1692f(1) when they demanded that Plaintiff pay $20,706.68 for a debt that Plaintiff never incurred. See FAC ¶¶ 27–29. However, the state court, by issuing a default judgment against Plaintiff, already determined that Plaintiff was liable for that debt. See Williams, 2010 WL 2889656, at *3. If this Court were to hold otherwise, it would undercut the state court ruling. See id. Thus, to the extent that Plaintiff’s FDCPA claims are premised on the proposition that Plaintiff is not liable for the debt, the Court finds that those claims are barred by the Rooker–Feldman Doctrine. See id However, to the extent that Plaintiff’s §§ 1692d, 1692e, and 1692f claims are premised on the proposition that Defendants employed improper collection methods, the Court finds that those claims are not barred by the Rooker–Feldman Doctrine. See Lange v. CIR Law Offices, Civil No. 09cv1485–CAB, 2010 WL 2524089, at *2, f.1 (S.D. Cal. June 10, 2010) (finding no jurisdictional bar under the Rooker–Feldman Doctrine to a plaintiff’s FDCPA claim because the plaintiff only sought determination that the method of collection engaged in by defendant was unfair). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants (1) called Plaintiff and demanded payment using abusive language (in violation of § 1692d(2)), (2) told Plaintiff that he did not need to respond to the lawsuit filed in the state court (in violation of § 1692e(10)), (3) failed to provide notice of the debt (in violation of § 1692e (11)), and (4) stated in a February collection letter that Plaintiff owed $20,706.68 when they later demanded only $20,427.13 in the state lawsuit (in violation of § 1692f (1)).A plaintiff may successfully assert FDCPA claims even if found liable for a debt. Williams, 2010 WL 2889656, at *4. Here, Plaintiff seeks a determination that the method of collection engaged in by Defendants was unfair. Under these circumstances, the Court finds no jurisdictional bar to considering Plaintiff’s claims. See Lange, 2010 WL 2524089, at *2, f.1 Further, Plaintiff does not seek to set aside the state court judgment in his prayer for relief. Rather, Plaintiff seeks an award of actual and statutory damages, along with costs of litigation and reasonable attorneys fees. Moreover, Plaintiff does not assert as his injury any specific legal errors by the state court and is not seeking relief from the state court judgment. Because Plaintiff is not seeking to overturn the money judgment that was entered against him in state court and does not assert that any legal errors by the state court caused him injury, the Rooker–Feldman Doctrine does not preclude Plaintiff’s claims premised on Defendants’ alleged improper collection methods. See Dexter, 654 F.Supp.2d at 1260.