United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
RACHEL M. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
GENERAL REVENUE CORPORATION, Defendant.
Jolson, Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
C. SMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon Defendant General Revenue
Corporation's Motion to Certify Decision for
Interlocutory Appeal (“GRC's Motion”) (Doc.
31). GRC's Motion asks the Court to certify for
interlocutory appeal, under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), its
previous Order denying GRC's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings. (Doc. 27). GRC's Motion is fully briefed and
ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, GRC's
Motion is DENIED.
case arises from a July 31, 2015 dunning letter sent by GRC
to Plaintiff Rachel Thompson for a $959.00 debt that was
allegedly owed by Thompson to Columbus State Community
College. (Doc. 2, Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 15, 17). The
letter also sought interest of $18.37 and a “Collection
Cost Balance” of $429.07. (Id.).
commenced an action in this Court under the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692 et seq., asserting GRC's dunning
letter contained false representations regarding the amount
of the principal balance and GRC's ability to recover the
collection costs. GRC alleges that it sent the letter because
the Ohio Attorney General certified Plaintiff's account
for collection, specifying the amounts for both the
underlying debt and the collection fee. (Doc. 3, Ver. Answer
at ¶¶ 17, 18, 20). The Ohio Attorney General was
collecting the debt on behalf of Columbus State (where
Thompson was a student) pursuant to Ohio Revised Code §
131.02(A). (Id. at ¶ 17). GRC further alleges
that it is a Third Party Collection Vendor for the Ohio
Attorney General and that it assists in collecting debts for
the Ohio Attorney General. (Id.).
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 5), GRC argued
that it was permitted to rely on the Attorney General's
representations as to the amount of the principal balance and
was not required by the FDCPA to conduct an independent
investigation into the amount and validity of the debt. GRC
also argued that the collections fee is statutorily allowed
by Ohio Revised Code § 131.02(A), which concerns
“Collecting amounts due to state.” The statute
sets forth the procedure by which a state institution like
Columbus State certifies debts to the Attorney General for
if the amount is not paid within forty-five days after
payment is due, the officer, employee, or agent shall certify
the amount due to the attorney general, in the form and
manner prescribed by the attorney general, and notify the
director of budget and management thereof.
Id. If the amount is due to a college like Columbus
State, the timing of certification is moderately different
but ultimately not germane to this matter. Id.
However, the statute also provides that, “[t]he
attorney general may assess the collection cost to the amount
certified in such manner and amount as prescribed by the
attorney general.” Id.
Court denied GRC's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
on August 2, 2017. (Doc. 27). In that Order, the undersigned
held that (1) the FDCPA does not permit a debt collector to
rely on the creditor's information regarding an alleged
debt without meeting the other requirements for use of the
bona fide error defense provided by 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(c); and (2) Ohio Revised Code § 131.02 does not
permit the Ohio Attorney General to charge an unlimited and
unreviewable amount of collection costs and to seek
remittance for those costs from the debtor.
September 7, 2017, GRC filed the present Motion asking the
Court to certify for interlocutory appeal, under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1292(b), the August 2, 2017 Order denying GRC's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
STANDARD FOR CERTIFICATION FOR INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL
U.S.C. § 1292(b) provides:
When a district judge, in making in a civil action an order
not otherwise appealable under this section, shall be of the
opinion that such order involves a controlling question of
law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of
opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may
materially advance the ...