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Sixth Circuit Rules ‘Bare’ Violation of FDCPA Not Enough To Pass Spokeo Test

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court decision and dismissed a lawsuit against a law firm after plaintiffs alleged a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because a letter acknowledging that that plaintiffs did not have to pay the remaining balance on their defaulted loan did not say that the communication was being sent on behalf of a debt collector.

Such a “bare” procedural violation of the FDCPA does not rise to meet the Article III standing in the Constitution that requires an individual to suffer concrete harm in order to be eligible to file a lawsuit in federal court, the Appeals Court ruled.

A copy of the ruling in Hagy v. Demers can be accessed here.

A District Court had ruled against the defendant because the letter did not include the required language under the FDCPA.

Because Congress made no effort to show how a letter like this would create a cognizable injury in fact and because we cannot see any way in which that could be the case, we must dismiss this claim for lack of standing.

Using Spokeo v. Robins as the precedent to confirm that a plaintiff must suffer a “concrete” injury in order to be able to file a lawsuit in federal court, Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote:

We know of no circuit court decision since Spokeo that endorses an anything-hurts-so-long-as-Congress-says-it-hurts theory of Article III injury.

 

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