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Johnson v. Levy

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

August 29, 2019

Doreen Johnson, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Yale R. Levy, Defendant-Appellee.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas No. 18CV-4149

          On brief: Doreen Johnson, pro se.

          On brief: Levy & Associates, LLC, and Sean M. Winters, for appellee.

          DECISION

          KLATT, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Doreen Johnson, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granting summary judgment to defendant-appellee, Yale R. Levy. Because appellee has established that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Appellee, an attorney and the owner of Levy & Associates, LLC, a Columbus law firm, was retained by Bank of America, N.A. ("the bank") to collect on a debt allegedly owed by appellant. On December 12, 2017, appellee sent appellant a letter stating that he and his law firm had been retained by the bank to collect the debt. The letter listed the bank as creditor, appellant as account holder, the last four digits of the account number associated with the debt, and the balance due on the debt ($3, 603.02). The letter further stated that if appellant notified appellee in writing within 30 days of receipt of the demand letter that she disputed the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, appellee would obtain verification of the debt and mail her a copy of the verification. The letter also indicated that "[t]his communication is from a debt collector." (Dec. 12, 2017 letter at 1, attached to appellee's Mot. for Summ. Jgmt., Ex 1.)

         {¶ 3} Appellant responded by letter dated January 11, 2018, wherein she disputed the debt and requested validation of the account "pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809(b)." (Jan. 11, 2018 letter at 1, attached to appellant's complaint and appellee's Mot. For Summ. Jgmt., Ex. 2.) Asserting that she neither knew nor had any business dealings with appellee or his law firm, appellant maintained that unless appellee submitted certified documentation validating "any such debt that you claim I owe to you [or your law firm]," he "cease and desist any collection activities and any further forms of contact/communication with me." (Jan. 11, 2018 letter at 1.) Appellant further asserted that should appellee fail to comply with her demand for validation, she would pursue legal action against him.

         {¶ 4} By letter dated January 22, 2018, appellee responded to appellant's request for validation, setting forth the name of the original creditor (the bank), the date the account was opened (June 14, 2013), the current balance on the account ($3, 603.02), the date of the last account activity (May 15, 2017), and the date the account was charged off (August 31, 2017). Appellee attached to the letter documentation associated with appellant's account with the bank. On June 11, 2018, appellee sent appellant a nearly identical letter, again accompanied by documentation pertaining to appellant's account with the bank.

         {¶ 5} On March 6, 2018, appellee filed a collection action in the Franklin County Municipal Court ("municipal court") on behalf of the bank.[1]

         {¶ 6} On May 21, 2018, appellant filed a pro se complaint against appellee alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, racketeering, extortion, and violation of Section 1692g of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"). Although the complaint is difficult to understand, it appears that appellant alleged that the municipal court complaint filed by appellee was fraudulent and part of a "Limited Liability Insurance Scheme" perpetrated by appellee. (May 21, 2018 Compl. at 2.) Appellant further alleged that she "has no business dealings/agreements" with appellee and that appellee, as a "Debt Collector/Attorney" for the bank, "cannot file a complaint or admit evidence into the court." Id. Appellant attached to her complaint her January 11, 2018 letter.

         {¶ 7} On August 10, 2018, appellee filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Appellee supported the motion with his own affidavit along with the three letters and bank documentation referenced above, all of which were incorporated by reference as exhibits into his affidavit. Appellant did not file a response to appellee's motion. In a judgment entry dated September 11, 2018, the trial court granted appellee's motion for summary judgment.

         {¶ 8} Appellant has appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment, setting forth a single assignment of error, as follows:

The court erred and abused its discretion in making an order/decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the Defendant. The court also erred without considering Plaintiffs'/Appellants' (herein Doreen) ...

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