Judge Denies MTD in FDCPA Case Over Intangible Injuries

A District Court judge in Florida has denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction after the judge had already granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, choosing to take a second look following a ruling in an Appeals Court case.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Mraz v. IC Systems, Inc., can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff was assessed a $50 fee by an optometrist because a guardian did not accompany the plaintiff’s son for the visit. The plaintiff refused to pay the debt and the optometrist assigned it to the defendant for collection. The defendant sent the plaintiff a collection letter, which read in part, “Since your payment to Terry L Tucker Od [sic] was refused and returned by your bank, you are now responsible for the total balance.” The plaintiff disputed the debt, at which point the defendant sought verification from the optometrist. The doctor notified the plaintiff that the fee had been waived and withdrew the account from collections. Nevertheless, the plaintiff filed suit, claiming the letter caused him to suffer “anger, anxiety, emotional distress, fear, frustration, humiliation, and embarrassment.”

Both parties sought summary judgment, but Judge Sheri Polster Chappell of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, granted the plaintiff’s motion. The plaintiff accepted the defendant’s offer of judgment, but then the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Trichell v. Midland Credit Management, which led the defendant to file a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

In Trichell, the plaintiff asserted standing based on informational injuries, which the Court ruled were not concrete injuries under Article III of the Constitution.

In this case, however, the plaintiff asserted intangible injuries, not informational ones. Emotional harms, like the ones alleged by the plaintiff, can be concrete, Judge Chappell ruled.

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