Judge Rules Plaintiff Lacks Standing on Hunstein Claim

A District Court judge in New York has granted a plaintiff’s motion to remand a Hunstein case back to state court, ruling that the plaintiff does not have standing to sue in federal court because the complaint does not allege that the communication of his information by the defendant to a letter vendor was seen by the “broader public, or even a large group of people.”

A copy of the ruling in the case of Cavazzini v. MRS Associates and Crown Asset Management can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from MRS in an attempt to collect an unpaid credit card debt that was owed to Crown Asset Management. The plaintiff filed suit in state court, alleging that Crown violated Sections 1692c(b) and 1692f of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by communicating with MRS and disclosing personal and or confidential information about his debt without his consent, and Section 1692e of the FDCPA by representing that the plaintiff owed minty to Crown, a representation that was allegedly false because he neither owed that amount nor owed Crown a debt.

The defendants removed the case to federal court, and the plaintiff filed a motion to have it remanded back to state court. In looking at whether the plaintiff had suffered a concrete injury — a required component to have standing to sue in federal court — Judge Allyne Ross of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York used a legal analogy to explain why the communication of information from a collector to a third-party letter vendor was not the kind of communication that the drafters of the FDCPA had in mind when they sought to prohibit such a disclosure.

“In many ways, a mailing vendor is a modern-day stenographer or clerk, briefly viewing the information for the purpose of creating and/or processing a communication,” Judge Ross wrote. “At any rate, its delimited role is closer to that of a stenographer or clerk than that of an employer, whose knowledge of an employee’s debt (and authority over the employee) could result in economic and/or reputational consequences for that employee. In sum, passing on a debtor’s information to a company for the sole purpose of creating a mailing does not appear to be one of the ‘unfair, deceptive, or harassing behavior[s]’ the FDCPA is meant to target.”

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