Judge Remands Three Hunstein Cases Back to State Court for Lack of Standing

A District Court judge in North Carolina has remanded three separate Hunstein cases back to state court, ruling that the plaintiffs in each did not suffer a concrete injury sufficient to have standing to sue in federal court.

Copies of the rulings in the cases of Brown v. Alltran Financial, Asbury v. Credit Corp. Solutions, and Hatchett v. Financial Business and Consumer Solutions can be accessed by clicking here, here, and here.

All three cases were originally filed in state court in North Carolina, and subsequently moved to federal court by the defendants. The defendant in Asbury declined to identify the concrete injury-in-fact allegations necessary to show jurisdiction, making Judge Catherine C. Eagles’s decision to remand the case back to state court an easy one. In the other two cases, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs did suffer concrete injuries, but Judge Eagles of the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina was not inclined to agree.

In all three cases, the defendants were accused of violating Section 1692c(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by communicating information about the plaintiffs’ debts with third parties, by sending their information to vendors that printed and mailed collection letters to the plaintiffs.

The original and amended complaints filed by the plaintiffs in Brown and Hatchett “are almost silent on the kind of harm” suffered by the plaintiffs, which makes it difficult for Judge Eagles to determine whether the plaintiffs suffered a concrete injury. Neither defendant “identified any specific allegations to support its contention that” the plaintiffs “alleged a concrete intangible harm.”

The plaintiff in Hatchett did not allege that the defendant “disclosed his debt information in an inherently public manner that could be seen by multiple people,” Judge Eagles wrote. In fact, the plaintiff never even alleged that a human saw the information that was transmitted to the letter vendor. “Nor has he alleged he owed the sort of debt that may result in a heightened interest in privacy, such as medical debt,” Judge Eagles noted.

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