Judge Dismisses Two Hunstein Cases for Lack of Standing

A District Court judge in New York has dismissed two cases — one of them a class action — that alleged the defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by sending private information to a third-party vendor to print and mail collection letters that were received by the plaintiffs, ruling that the information that was transmitted in these cases — names and addresses — was not private and therefore the plaintiffs do not have standing to pursue their cases in federal court.

A copy of the ruling in the cases of Ciccone v. Cavalry Portfolio Services and Pearl v. Financial Recovery Services can be accessed by clicking here.

The judge in these cases — Judge Joann Seybert of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York — had ordered the plaintiffs to submit briefs that illustrated how they each established standing under Article III, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in TransUnion v. Ramirez.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants conveyed private information, including their names, address, status as debtors, and the precise amounts of the alleged debts to third-party vendors, in violation of Section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA. But, in Hunstein v. Preferred Management & Collection Services — the case which sparked thousands of copycat cases nationwide — the information that was transmitted was different, Judge Seybert noted.

“Here, Plaintiffs do not allege Defendants communicated to the third-party vendors ‘intensely private information’ like that at issue in Hunstein,” Judge Seybert wrote. “Accordingly, it is ‘difficult to suggest’ that the type of information Defendants communicated to their third-party vendors, such as Plaintiff’s name and address; Plaintiff’s status as a debtor; or the precise amount of the alleged debt, ‘would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.’ “

Judge Seybert also looked at the FDCPA itself and noted that Congress condoned the use of intermediaries to communicate with debtors in other provisions of the statute.

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