JOHN T. CURTIN, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Donald McQueen, filed this action on March 25, -, against Huddleston and Huddleston ("H & H"), "an attorney's office organized and existing under the laws of the State of Kentucky" (Item 1, ¶ 5), alleging various violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. On April 29, -, attorney Lee Huddleston filed a document entitled " Pro Se Limited Entry of Appearance and Motion to Dismiss, " seeking dismissal of the complaint on various grounds including improper venue, lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient process, insufficient service, and failure to join a necessary party. Item 6. Plaintiff has filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss (Item 9), along with a motion for leave to amend the complaint in order to name the proper defendant (Item 10).
For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion to amend is granted, and defendant's motion to dismiss is denied.
As alleged in the complaint, plaintiff is a resident of Orleans County, which is located within the Western District of New York. He claims that, following his default on a debt to CitiFinancial, an entity named "CSGA, LLC" acquired the debt and obtained a judgment, which plaintiff claims was satisfied in March 2006 by "arrangements with CSGA...." Item 1, ¶¶ 12, 13. He further alleges that, in early 2012, H & H "began contacting the Plaintiff to collect on the previously satisfied subject debt..." ( id. at ¶ 14), prompting plaintiff to file a consumer complaint with the New York State Attorney General's Office in February 2012. H & H filed a response to the consumer complaint, dated March 22, 2012, stating that it had closed the collection account upon learning that the debt had been paid. Id. at ¶¶ 15-16. Plaintiff alleges that, contrary to this statement, H & H continued to contact him demanding payment, including a March 27, 2012, voicemail indicating that there was a lawsuit still pending against plaintiff. Id. at ¶¶ 17-23. Plaintiff seeks damages and attorney's fees for violations of several provisions of the FDCPA, including § 1692e (prohibiting use of false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with collection of a debt); § 1692f (prohibiting use of unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect a debt); and § 1692d (prohibiting harassment, oppression, or abuse in connection with collection of a debt). See id. at ¶ 25.
In lieu of answering the complaint, Mr. Huddleston filed his pro se appearance "for the limited purposes of moving the Court to dismiss the complaint." Item 6, p. 1. He asserts that he is an attorney practicing in Bowling Green, Kentucky, under the name of Huddleston & Huddleston, Attorneys at Law PLLC, and that he is not aware of any entity named "Huddleston and Huddleston." He further asserts that neither he nor his law firm has ever transacted any business or maintained any "minimal contacts" in New York, and that all of the events set forth in the complaint took place in Kentucky. Mr. Huddleston seeks dismissal of the complaint for improper venue, or in the alternative, transfer of venue to the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Bowling Green Division. Id. at 2-3. He also contends that, although he received a summons addressed to "Huddleston and Huddleston, " he did not receive a summons addressed to "Lee Huddleston" or "Huddleston & Huddleston, Attorneys at Law PLLC, " and that the case should therefore be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient process, and insufficient service of process. Id. at 3.
Finally, Mr. Huddleston asserts that plaintiff had two debts with CitiFinancial-one being handled by his law office in Kentucky, and the other being handled by Bronson & Migliaccio LLP (the "Bronson firm") in Buffalo, New York-and that plaintiff has confused the collection efforts of the Huddleston firm with those of the Bronson firm. Mr. Huddleston states that his firm closed its file out of an abundance of caution when plaintiff produced documentation showing that one of the debts had been paid, and that it was someone from the Bronson firm who left the March 27, 2012 message on plaintiff's voicemail, looking for payment on the other CitiFinancial debt. Mr. Huddleston therefore seeks dismissal of the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1) for failure to join the Bronson firm as a party whose presence is required in order to accord complete relief. Id. at 4.
In response to the motion, plaintiff contends that venue of this action is properly laid because a substantial part of the events giving rise to the FDCPA claim- i.e., receipt of a letter and a telephone call from H & H seeking collection of a debt-occurred in the Western District of New York. Plaintiff also contends that the Bronson firm is not a necessary party to this action because, taking the facts pleaded as true and construing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the complaint states a claim for relief under the FDCPA based on the debt collection efforts of H&H, not the conduct of Bronson or some other law firm. Plaintiff also seeks leave to amend the complaint to name Lee Huddleston, d/b/a Huddleston and Huddleston Attorneys at Law PLLC, as the proper defendant, which plaintiff asserts will cure any defects regarding service of process or personal jurisdiction.
For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion to amend is granted, and Mr. Huddleston's motion to dismiss is denied.
I. Motion to Amend
Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in pertinent part, that a party may amend its pleading by leave of the court and that the court "should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). In recognition of this liberal standard, courts freely permit amendments to cure such pleading deficiencies as the improper naming of defendants previously served. See, e.g., Datskow v. Teledyne, Inc., Cont'l Prods. Div., 899 F.2d 1298, 1301 (2d Cir. 1990) (reversing denial of motion to amend to re-designate proper defendant; misnomer may be corrected when "plaintiffs did not select the wrong defendant but committed the lesser sin of mislabeling the right defendant"); Vadenais v. Christina, 325 F.2d 157, 158 (2d Cir. 1963) ( per curiam ) (leave to amend should be granted to correct misnaming of defendant); Circuito Cerrado Inc. v. La Camisa Negra Restaurant & Bar Corp., 2011 WL 1131113, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2011) ("Where there is notice and no discernible prejudice, amendment has been allowed to correct the name of a sued party while a suit is pending or even after judgment.") (citing cases).
In this case, the materials submitted in connection with the pending motions indicate to the court that plaintiff does not seek leave to amend the complaint in order to add a new defendant who had no prior notice of the lawsuit, but rather as an attempt to properly name the debt collector against whom this FDCPA action is being brought and upon whom process has been served. For example, in support of his pro se motion to dismiss, Mr. Huddleston has attached copies of plaintiff's consumer complaint which was filed with the State Attorney General in February 2012 against the Bronson firm, and the "Response Form" which Mr. Huddleston signed identifying "Huddleston & Huddleston" as the legal name of his company, and himself as the owner ( see Item 7, p. 5), providing a reasonable basis for plaintiff to name "Huddleston and Huddleston" as the defendant in this action. Moreover, Mr. Huddleston does not dispute that he received notice of the suit by way of service of the summons addressed to "Huddleston & Huddleston" ( see Item 6, p. 3), and he has not objected or otherwise responded to plaintiff's motion for leave to amend in order to cure the defect, despite ample opportunity to do so ( see Item 8).
For these reasons, the court will grant plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint in order to cure this deficiency by naming Lee Huddleston, d/b/a Huddleston and Huddleston ...