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 Post subject: Fields v. Howe
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:29 am 
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Fields v. Howe
Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2002 WL 418011
S.D.Ind.,2002.
March 14, 2002

ENTRY AND ORDER


SARAH EVANS BARKER, Judge.
*1 This cause comes before the Court on Defendants' motions to compel arbitration and motions to dismiss. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motions to compel, denies the motions to dismiss, and orders limited discovery on the issue of prohibitive arbitration costs.


Background

In 1987, defendant Greenwood Trust Company/Discover Financial Services, Inc. (Discover) issued a credit card to plaintiff Marilyn J. Fields (Fields). Compl. ¶ 1. By February 2001, Fields was in default on her Discover account. Compl. ¶ 12. In a February 14, 2001 letter to Fields, Discover requested that she pay the outstanding balance on her account-an amount totaling $9,329.33. Compl. ¶¶ 13-15, Ex. A. On April 5, 2001, defendant Howard Howe (Howe), an attorney retained by Discover to collect Fields' debt, sent Fields a letter asking her to make arrangements to pay the credit card debt. Compl. ¶¶ 20-21. Fields' continued failure to pay prompted Howe to file a complaint on behalf of Discover against Fields in Marion [County] Superior Court on May 15, 2001 seeking the balance due on her Discover account, interest, attorney fees and costs. Significant to the present case, Discover and Howe sought $1,950 in attorney fees and costs, Comp. ¶¶ 39-42, Ex. C, and on June 8, 2001, along with his application for a default judgment against Fields, Howe submitted to the Marion Superior Court a verified affidavit in support of his request for attorney fees. Compl. ¶¶ 60-64.
Fields responded by filing the present action in federal court against Howe and Discover on July 16, 2001, alleging that the defendants violated state and federal law in their attempts to collect Fields' Discover debt. Fields lodges claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and under the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO). Her complaint, which seeks class certification, also includes claims of statutory deception, attorney deceit, common law breach of contract and abuse of the legal process. On September 25, 2001 and October 23, 2001, Discover and Howe, respectively, filed motions to compel arbitration and motions to dismiss. We turn now to a discussion of these motions.


Discussion

Federal policy favors the enforcement of private arbitration agreements. Brown v. Surety Fin. Serv., Inc., 2000 WL 528631, *1 (N.D.Ill. March 24, 2000) (citing Moses H. Cone Memorial Hosp. v. Mercury Const. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24 (1983)). Under such policy, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) “authorizes a district court to compel arbitration of any issue covered by a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement.â€


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