Courts within the Seventh Circuit continue to attack the issue of standing in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases, this time dismissing a case because a plaintiff was confused about the amount that was owed after receiving a collection letter, because the plaintiff never made any attempt to pay the debt, and that decision to not pay the debt did not lead to any consequences, such as the debt being credit reported or the amount of the debt increasing. The upshot of this ruling, like many that have come before it, is plaintiffs better have done more than worry about a debt if they expect to bring FDCPA suits.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Marcano v. Nationwide Credit & Collection can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a series of collection letters from the defendant, which allegedly left him confused about the amount that was owed and the entity to whom he needed to make his payments. Specifically, he alleged he was confused and that confusion caused him not to make any payments. Making the decision to not pay led the plaintiff to be worried that the debt would be reported to the credit bureaus or that he would be sued for not making any payments.
So instead of disputing the debt, contacting the defendant for more information, or doing anything else, the plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letters violated Sections 1692e, 1692f, 1692g(a)(1), and 1692(a)(2) of the FDCPA.
But in order to have standing to sue, especially in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, claiming confusion is not enough to justify filing a lawsuit. A plaintiff must show that he or she acted on that confusion, and that action must have resulted in something bad happening.
Let’s let Judge Marvin E. Aspen take it from here.
“Here, there is no evidence in the record that Marcano’s decision to forgo paying the $68.20 amount identified in the July 8 Letter harmed him or created an appreciable risk of harm to him,” Judge Aspen wrote. “The amount of the debt disclosed in the July 8 Letter has not increased, and no interest has accrued on the debt, so Marcano’s decision to not pay the debt has not caused him to owe more money. NCC also has not reported the debt to any credit reporting agency, so Marcano’s decision to not pay has not impacted his credit either. In short, the July 8 Letter has not caused Marcano to suffer any financial consequences or incur any other kind of expenses.”