Judge Remands FDCPA Class Action Back to State Court

A defendant has lost its attempt to keep a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class action in federal court, with a District Court judge in Wisconsin ruling that even though the plaintiff sought the help of an attorney and that interest continued to accrue on the underlying debt, she did not suffer a concrete injury needed to keep the case out of state court.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Wusterbarth v. Credit Services Co. can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant in regard to an unpaid medical debt. The letter identified the original creditor in an itemized table, but the plaintiff accused the defendant of violating the FDCPA by not identifying the current creditor to whom the debt was owed. The plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit in state court, which the defendant had removed to federal court. The plaintiff then filed a motion to remand the case back to state court.

This case is emblematic of a trend in the accounts receivable management industry where plaintiffs are specifically claiming not to have suffered a concrete injury in order to keep their cases from being heard in federal court, where a series of rulings in the past year have dealt body blows to plaintiffs on the issue of standing.

The defendant attempted to argue that the plaintiff indeed suffered a concrete injury when it failed to notify her of the current creditor, but Judge William Griesbach of the District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that the plaintiff’s complaint did not reach the level of claiming the concrete injury needed to keep the case in federal court.

“She does not allege that she would have paid the amount absent this confusion or that she attempted to clarify her confusion, make a payment toward the debt, or handled her debts differently,” Judge Griesbach wrote. “In short, the allegations contained in Plaintiff’s amended complaint are insufficient to constitute an injury in fact.”

Judge Griesbach did deny the plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees, ruling that the defendant did not act in bad faith.

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