The defendant in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case where a lower court’s dismissal was reversed over the inclusion of a barcode on the envelope containing a collection letter has filed a petition with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc rehearing, arguing that the Supreme Court’s ruling in TransUnion v. Ramirez means the plaintiff lacks standing to pursue his claim.
A copy of the petition in the case of Morales v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group can be accessed by clicking here.
The Third Circuit issued its ruling, overturning the lower court’s dismissal, earlier this month. It ruled that the inclusion of the barcode, which contained the first 10 characters of the plaintiff’s street address, was sufficient to confer standing. But the defendant is now arguing that the TransUnion ruling, which was released after arguments in this case were concluded, conflicts with the ruling issued by the Appeals Court.
“Like Ramirez, the evidence in the record in the present case establishes that Plaintiff suffered no concrete nor particularized harm as the result of merely receiving a letter with a benign barcode on the envelope,” the defendant wrote in its petition. “The Court in Ramirez, in reversing the Ninth Circuit in part, has reinforced the notion that federal lawsuits by unharmed individuals are not permissible where they are simply looking to enforce general compliance with regulations. That is precisely what Plaintiff is attempting to do in the case at hand.”
The defendant also pointed out all of the steps that would have needed to occur in order for someone to have been able to gain access to the plaintiff’s account after that someone had scanned the barcode and then noted that in the seven years since the letter in question was mailed, none of those steps ever occurred.
In its ruling, the Appeals Court noted that nobody needed to know how to use the data in order for a violation of the FDCPA to have occurred. Just the fact that the information was available was enough for the plaintiff to have standing to pursue his claim.
The defendant also took issue with the fact that the information included in the barcode did not contain enough personal information about the plaintiff for someone to do any damage with it. “In the end, the conclusion by the panel that private information was disclosed by the barcode is simply contrary to the record,” the defendant wrote.