Judge Grants MSJ for Defendant in FDCPA Case Over Dismissed Collection Suit

A District Court judge in Wisconsin has granted a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it tried to sue the plaintiff twice for an unpaid debt, but neither summons was ever served and the lawsuits were dismissed, thus causing the plaintiff to suffer anxiety and emotional harm for lawsuits he never had to defend himself against.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Kasten v. LVNV Funding can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant attempted to serve a collection lawsuit to recover an unpaid credit card debt. But the attempt to serve the summons and complaint were unsuccessful. After learning the plaintiff had a new address in a different county, the defendant sent a P.O. Box Request/Change of Address form to the plaintiff, which the United States Postal Service was delivered as addressed. The defendant had the original collection suit dismissed, and sent a collection letter to the new address, which was not returned. The defendant then filed a new collection lawsuit in the proper county, but service of the summons and complaint in that lawsuit was unsuccessful as well. After learning the plaintiff was living at a new address, the defendant had the second collection suit dismissed as well. At the end of the day, the plaintiff was never served with either lawsuit.

What makes this ruling a little bit more enjoyable to read than the usual rulings is the inclusion of some of the plaintiff’s deposition testimony related to the types of injury he claims he suffered when he was notified that one of the collection lawsuits filed against him was being dismissed because the summons was never served and the defendant learned that the plaintiff had moved to a different county. While detailed about the specifics that led to the plaintiff feeling anxiety and emotional harm, it fell short of information needed to “substantiate a concrete injury of emotional harm from the defendants’ act of filing a small claims suit in an improper venue,” wrote Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph of the District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. “At best, Kasten’s testimony about his anger reveals that he was angry because he did not get the opportunity to respond to a lawsuit that had already been dismissed. Similarly, Kasten’s deposition testimony fails to substantiate his alleged injuries of anxiety and emotional distress from being sued in Washington County. Instead, Kasten’s deposition testimony suggests that what caused him anxiety and emotional distress was the fact that the lawsuit was dismissed because it was unable to be served. And although Kasten testified that he experienced fear, humiliation, frustration, and other negative emotions, his statements were either conclusory or contradictory.”

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