NDOH Judge Grants MSJ for Defendant in FDCPA Case of Inclusion of ‘Interest’ in Letters

In a case that was defended by the Law Office of Boyd Gentry, a District Court judge in Ohio has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing to claim an injury after receiving collection letters that listed itemized columns for interest and other charges that were not accruing, because he didn’t do anything to show that he was harmed by their inclusion.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Gaston v. Finance System of Toledo can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received two collection letters from the defendant in regards to two debts that were owed to a healthcare provider. The letters included a table breaking down the debts and had columns for “Interest” and “Other.” Both columns lists “.00” for the debts that were owed. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letters violated Sections 1692e, 1692e(2), 1692e(5), 1692e(10), and 1692f of the FDCPA because misleadingly suggested that the defendant could collection an amount above and beyond that which was owed and that it created a false sense of urgency to compel the plaintiff to make a payment.

But after receiving the letters, the plaintiff didn’t do anything. He testified during a deposition that he didn’t lose any money because of the letters, but argued the procedural violations harmed his interests.

Applying the standard set in Buchholz v. Meyer Njus Tanick, PA, which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on last year, Judge Jeffrey Helmick of the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio noted that the plaintiff did “not identify any actions he took to address the debts that he would not have in the absence of receiving the itemization.”

The plaintiff argued that the itemization affected his ability to “intelligently prioritize how to handle his obligations,” but Judge Helmick recognized that the plaintiff did “not identify any way in which his prioritization of obligations was actually affected,” and ruled he lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to allow the suit to move forward.

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