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Church Joint Venture, L.P. v. Earl Blasingame

Summarizing by Amir Shachmurove

VIncent Manikan v. Peters and Freeman, LLP

Case Type:
Consumer
Case Status:
Reversed and Remanded
Citation:
No. 19-55393 (9th Circuit, Nov 25,2020) Published
Tag(s):
Ruling:
Walls v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 276 F.3d 502 (9th Cir. 2002), does not preclude a Fair Debt Collection Practices Claim Act (15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.) claim by a debtor who receives a discharge in bankruptcy if the debt is satisfied through a Chapter 13 plan before the discharge order is entered.
Procedural context:
Vincent Manikan, the plaintiff-appellant, sued debt collectors for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that Manikan could not sue under the FDCPA under the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Walls v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 276 F.3d 502 (9th Cir. 2002), because the debt had been treated in and fully satisfied through his Chapter 13 plan. The US district court granted the defendants summary judgment, and Manikan appealed.
Facts:
Vincent Manikan lives and owns a home in San Diego, California. His home is in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA). In January 2009, he fell behind on his dues, and Peters & Freedman, LLP (P&F), a law firm acting as a debt collector for the HOA, sent Manikan notices regarding his unpaid dues. Nearly three years later, P&F recorded a “Notice of Delinquent Assessment/Lien” on the HOA’s behalf with the San Diego County Recorder’s Office. The notice claimed the HOA had a lien of $1,539.00 plus any additional assessment and costs for unpaid HOA dues. P&F then started nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings. Manikan filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. He designated the HOA as a secured creditor in his bankruptcy petition and valued the HOA’s claim at $3,046.04. He also confirmed that he would pay the total HOA arrears through his proposed bankruptcy plan and that he would pay his ongoing HOA dues directly to the HOA. P&F filed a proof of claim for the HOA for $2,978.24. Manikan’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan was confirmed. N.N. Jaeschke, Inc., a property management and debt collection company, received Manikan’s HOA arrearage payments paid under the bankruptcy plan. In March 2014, N.N. Jaeschke told the bankruptcy trustee that the HOA debt was “paid in full.” Because the amount paid on the debt was less than the amount stated in the HOA’s proof of claim, the Chapter 13 trustee adjusted the claim to reflect what was paid and issued a notice stating the HOA’s claim was “deemed as fully paid.” Nearly two years later, Manikan received his Chapter 13 discharge. P&F subsequently hired Advanced Attorney Services (AAS) to re-serve Manikan with the same Notice of Default that P&F recorded in 2012. The process server entered Manikan’s backyard without permission by breaking a closed gate. The process server then banged on Manikan’s windows, startling Manikan, his cousin, and his elderly mother. Someone from Manikan’s household called the police and after they arrived, the process server identified himself and served Manikan with the 2012 Notice of Default. Manikan called P&F, which responded that its records still showed an unpaid balance. After further review, P&F located a communication from N.N. Jaeschke stating that the HOA debt was fully paid. P&F then contacted N.N. Jaeschke to determine if the debt was still owed. P&F then admitted there was no balance owing when it hired the process server to serve Manikan with the 2012 Notice of Default after Manikan had received his discharge in bankruptcy.
Judge(s):
Kim McLane Wardlaw, Deborah L. Cook,* and Danielle J. Hunsaker, Circuit Judges (The Honorable Deborah L. Cook, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, sitting by designation)

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