Judge Remands FDCPA Class Back to State Court After Ruling Plaintiff Lacks Standing

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a plaintiff’s motion to remand a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case back to state court, while denying the motion for attorney fees and costs, after the plaintiff received two collection emails from the defendant in which the name of the original creditor was slightly different in each message, ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue in federal court.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Montgomery v. Everest Receivable Services can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received two collection emails from the defendant. Each identified the current creditor to whom the debt was owed as “DNF Associates LLC.” The first email identified the original creditor as “Indigo MasterCard / Celtic Bank” while the second identified the original creditor as “Indigo MasterCard.” The balance that was sought was the same in both emails.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the communications violated the FDCPA because it made her think she owed two separate debts instead of one because the original creditors were not identical in both letters.

But, as in a growing number of cases within the Seventh Circuit, worrying that you might owe twice as much as you think is not enough for a plaintiff to have standing to sue, ruled Judge Gary Feinerman of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s “complaint does not allege that the emails gave rise to the risk that she would overpay her debt,” wrote Judge Feinerman. The plaintiff’s “request for ‘actual damages’ does not establish Article III standing.”

The defendants attempted to argue that the plaintiff had standing to sue in federal court, but Judge Feinerman was unpersuaded by its arguments.

Judge Feinerman did deny the plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees and costs after she argued that the defendants “either removed this case without any understanding of current caselaw, or in a cynical attempt to cause additional costs and delay.”

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