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Boyd v. J.E. Robert Co. Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

August 27, 2014

JOAN GRANT BOYD, SYBIL TAYLOR, RANDA JONES, TONYA WARTERS, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
J.E. ROBERT CO., INC., JER REVENUE SERVICES, LLC, NYCTL 1996-1 TRUST, NYCTL 1997-1 TRUST, NYCTL 1997-2 TRUST, NYCTL 1998-1 TRUST, NYCTL 1999-1 TRUST, Defendants-Appellees

Argued: August 19, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. No. 05-2455 (KAM) -- Kiyo Matsumoto, Judge.

Plaintiffs-Appellants commenced this putative class action against defendants J.E Robert Co., Inc., JER Revenue Services, LLC, NYCTL 1996-1 Trust, NYCTL 1997-1 Trust, NYCTL 1998-1 Trust, and NYCTL 1999-1 Trust alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (" FDCPA" ) and New York statutory and common law. Plaintiffs allege that defendants obtained unauthorized attorneys' fees and costs in connection with actions to foreclose liens on plaintiffs' properties arising out of unpaid municipal property taxes and water and sewer charges. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Kiyo A. Matsumoto, Judge) granted summary judgment for defendants on the FDCPA claims on the basis, inter alia, that the liens did not involve a " debt" as defined by the FDCPA. The Court then declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.

We hold that liens for mandatory water and sewer charges imposed by New York City as an incident to property ownership, which are treated as akin to property tax liens, are not subject to the FDCPA because they do not involve a " debt" as that term is defined in the statute. We also hold that the District Court properly declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.

Accordingly, we AFFIRM the October 2, 2012 and September 27, 2013 orders of the District Court.

PAUL STUART GROBMAN (Curtis V. Trinko, Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, New York, NY, on the brief) Law Office of Paul Stuart Grobman, New York, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

JONATHAN DAVID ELLIOT, Zeldes, Needle & Cooper, P.C., Bridgeport, CT, for Appellees J.E. Robert Co., Inc. and JER Revenue Services, LLC.

DONNA B. MORRIS (Pamela S. Dolgow, Stephen Kitzinger, on the brief), on behalf of Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, New York, NY, for Appellees NYCTL Trusts.

Before: CABRANES, STRAUB and LIVINGSTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 124

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiffs-Appellants Joan Grant Boyd and Randa Jones commenced this putative class action against J.E Robert Co., Inc. and JER Revenue Services, LLC (jointly, " JER" ), and NYCTL 1996-1 Trust, NYCTL 1997-1 Trust, NYCTL 1998-1 Trust, and NYCTL 1999-1 Trust (jointly, the " Trust defendants" and, together with JER, " defendants" ) alleging that defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (" FDCPA" ) and New York statutory and common law. Plaintiffs allege that defendants obtained unauthorized attorneys' fees and costs in connection with actions to foreclose liens on plaintiffs' properties arising out of unpaid municipal property taxes and water and sewer charges. The District Court granted summary judgment for defendants on the FDCPA claims on the basis, inter alia, that the liens did not involve a " debt" as defined by the FDCPA. The Court then declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.

We hold that liens for mandatory water and sewer charges imposed by New York City as an incident to property ownership, which are treated as akin to property tax liens, are not subject to the FDCPA because they do not involve a " debt" as that term is defined in the statute. We also hold that the District Court properly ...


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