A District Court judge in Illinois has denied motions in two separate Hunstein cases seeking to remove cases back to state court, ruling that the plaintiffs have alleged to have suffered concrete harms and thus have standing to sue in federal court. Both cases were originally filed in state court, but were remanded to federal court at the defendants’ requests.
In both cases, the plaintiffs alleged the defendants violated Section 1692c(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using letter vendors to prepare and mail collection letters that were sent to them. Such use of a letter vendor, the plaintiffs alleged, disclosed information about their debts to unauthorized third parties. The cases are using similar allegations made in the case of Hunstein v. Preferred Collection & Management Services, on which the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling back in April. The defendant has filed a petition with the Eleventh Circuit for an en banc review of the case. That petition is still pending.
In these cases, the plaintiffs attempted to argue that the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue in federal court. The plaintiffs attempted to use a series of rulings that have been issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on the topic of standing to prove their arguments. But, as Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois determined in both of these cases, the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling in Hunstein held that a violation of Section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA “gives rise to a concrete injury-in-fact for Article III standing.”
Other rulings have also determined that an intrusion upon seclusion or invasion of privacy — such as a third-party disclosure — assert a concrete harm.