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Alvin J. Kangas and Jessica Pease-Kangas v. Amy M. Kieffer and Gray & Associates

April 24, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Daniel L. Hovland, District Judge United States District Court


Before the Court is the Defendants' "Motion for Dismissal Under Rule 12, Fed. R. Civ. P." filed on February 14, 2012. See Docket No. 6. The Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to the motion on February 29, 2012. See Docket No. 13. The Defendants filed a reply brief on March 14, 2012. See Docket No. 15. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted.


The plaintiffs, Alvin J. Kangas and Jessica Pease-Kangas, are residents of Selfridge, North Dakota. They own a home with the address 1396 Bashaw Valley Road, Shell Lake, Wisconsin. Defendant Amy M. Kieffer is a lawyer residing in Wisconsin. She is employed by Defendant Gray & Associates, L.L.P., a Wisconsin law firm. No lawyers employed by Gray & Associates, including Kieffer, are licensed to practice law in North Dakota.

On September 25, 2011, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage ("Wells Fargo") sent a letter to Alvin Kangas explaining that his loan was delinquent in the amount of $2,946.98. See Docket No. 2-1. Wells Fargo states in the letter that if the loan is not brought current by October 25, 2011, "we will proceed with acceleration. Once acceleration has occurred, we may take steps to terminate your ownership in the property by a foreclosure proceeding, which could result in Lender or another person acquiring ownership of the property." See Docket No. 2-1.

On November 29, 2011, Gray & Associates sent a letter to Alvin Kangas stating that it had been retained by Wells Fargo to collect the mortgage debt. See Docket No. 2-2. At that time, the total amount due to pay off the loan was $169,017.06. Gray & Associates states in the letter, "If you are currently in bankruptcy or have been discharged in bankruptcy, this letter is not an attempt to collect the debt from you personally. This letter serves only as notice of the commencement of a legal proceeding as required by the mortgage loan documents, state law and/or federal law." See Docket No. 2-2.

On November 29, 2011, lawyer Amy Kieffer filed a complaint in the circuit court of Burnett County, Wisconsin, seeking foreclosure of the mortgage. See Docket No. 5. The complaint states:

6. The mortgagors expressly agreed to the reduced redemption period provisions contained in Chapter 846 of the Wisconsin Statutes; the plaintiff hereby elects to proceed under section 846.103(2) with a three month period of redemption; thereby waiving judgment for any deficiency against every party who is personally liable for the debt, and to consent that the owner, unless he or she abandons the property, may remain in possession and be entitled to all rents and profits therefrom to the date of confirmation of the sale by the court.

See Docket No. 5. Wells Fargo requested the following relief:

1. Judgment of foreclosure and sale of the mortgaged premises in accordance with the provisions of section 846.103(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes, with plaintiff expressly waiving its right to obtain a deficiency judgment against any defendant in this action.

2. That the amounts due the plaintiff from the mortgagor defendants for principal, interest, taxes, insurance, costs of suit and attorney fees be determined.

3. That the defendants, and all persons claiming under them be barred from all rights in said premises, except that right to redeem.

4. That the premises be sold for payment of the amount due to the plaintiff, together with interest, reasonable attorney fees and costs, costs of sale and any advances made for the benefit and preservation of the premises until confirmation of sale.

5. That the defendants and all persons claiming under them be enjoined from committing waste or doing any act that may impair the value of the mortgaged premises; and

That the plaintiff have such other and further judgment order or relief as may be just and equitable.

See Docket No. 5.

On December 8, 2011, Julie A. Griebenow, a Gray & Associates employee, sent a letter to Firefly Legal, Inc., located in Mokena, Illinois. See Docket No. 2-3. The letter requests that Firefly Legal, Inc. serve copies of a summons and complaint on Alvin Kangas and Jessica Pease-Kangas at their home in Selfridge, North Dakota.

Alvin Kangas and Jessica Pease-Kangas filed a complaint in the South Central Judicial District Court in Sioux County, North Dakota on December 27, 2011. See Docket No. 1-1. They allege the Defendants have violated the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") "by engaging in a deceptive and abusive debt collection practice, namely by trying to collect a debt in North Dakota without a North Dakota collection agency license and without being eligible for any exemption from that licensing requirement." See Docket No. 1-1. Alvin Kangas and Jessica Pease-Kangas request the following relief:

12. For a judgment of at least $50,000.00 against each Collector for violation of FDCPA.

13. For an award of statutory damages of $1,000.00, attorney fees, and costs for the FDCPA violations.

14. On all issues so triable, for trial by jury of at least 9 members.

15. For such other relief, legal and equitable, to which Consumers show they are entitled as supported by ...

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