The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court’s order granting a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, but only so it could tell the lower court to instead dismiss the case without prejudice because of a lack of jurisdiction.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Adams v. Skagit Bonded Collectors, LLC can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging it violated the FDCPA because it failed to properly identify the current creditor to whom a debt was owed in a collection letter. The plaintiff alleged he was harmed because was was “unsure of who the current creditor was.”
While neither party raised the issue of standing when the case was before the lower court, the Ninth Circuit addressed that before looking at the lower court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, and what it found was a “bare allegation of confusion” on the part of the plaintiff, which “does not constitute an actual harm to [the plaintiff’s] concrete interests.”
While the plaintiff laid out scenarios in which a hypothetical individual may be harmed if he or she were misled about the creditor to whom the debt was owed, the plaintiff never indicated how he himself “was ever at risk of detrimental reliance,” the Appeals Court wrote.
“Because not every misleading statement in a debt collection letter necessarily threatens the recipient’s concrete interests, we consider the alleged violation here more procedural than substantive,” and remanded the case back to the District Court to have it dismissed.