Appeals Court Issues Four More Rulings on Lack of Standing

A day after it issued two rulings in which it determined plaintiffs lacked standing to sue debt collectors for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued four more rulings on the matter yesterday, determining in each case that the plaintiffs lacked standing to file their lawsuits because they did not prove that each of them suffered a concrete injury.

Copies of the rulings in Bazile v. Finance System of Green Bay, Spuhler v. State Collection Service, Brunett v. Convergent Outsourcing, and Gunn v. Thrasher, Buschmann & Voelkel can be accessed by clicking on each case.

In Bazile and Spuhler, the plaintiffs alleged the defendants violated the FDCPA by sending each of them collection letters that did not indicate whether the amount that was owed would increase with the accrual of interest. In Brunett, the defendant offered to accept 50% of the amount that was owed — slightly more than $1,000 — but included a disclosure that forgiving more than $600 would need to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. In Gunn, the plaintiffs were sued for an unpaid debt on the grounds that they breached a contract, where a collection letter indicated that if a suit were to be filed, it would be a foreclosure action.

A District Court judge dismissed the plaintiff’s claims in Gunn. In Brunett, the District Court denied a motion to certify a class,. In Spuhler, a Magistrate judge granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and in Bazile, the Appeals Court remanded the case back to the District Court for an evidentiary hearing to determine if the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction.

As the Appeals Court noted in the Brunett ruling, “Talk is cheap, but where is the concrete harm? That’s what the Constitution requires and Brunett does not allege any.”

Added the Court, “… the state of confusion is not itself an injury. If it were, then everyone would have standing to litigate about everything.”

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