Judge Grants MTD in Hunstein Class Action for Lack of Standing

A District Court judge in Pennsylvania has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Hunstein copycat class-action case, ruling the plaintiff lacks standing to sue.

A copy of the newest ruling — Barclift v. Keystone Credit Services — can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, and filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that the defendant violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by communicating information about her debt with a third party, namely a vendor that prints and mails collection letters. The information that was transmitted included the plaintiff’s name, address, the name of the original creditor, the date on which the debt became delinquent, and the balance that was owed.

After first analyzing the Supreme Court’s ruling in TransUnion v. Ramirez and then looking at the legislative history and intent behind the FDCPA, Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., then turned his attention to the facts pleaded by the plaintiff. Citing rulings in nearly a dozen Hunstein cases from across the country, Judge Leeson noted that even if employees of the letter vendor saw the plaintiff’s personal information, it was not a large enough group of people to constitute public dissemination of personal information.

As well, there was nothing “sinister” in the defendant’s use of a letter vendor, the kind of abuses that Congress sought to prohibit when it enacted the FDCPA, Judge Leeson ruled. “The FDCPA is meant to protect the vulnerable from the real harm of abusive, harassing, and deceptive debt collection practices,” he wrote. “It is not meant to provide a cause of action for the imaginary harm proposed by the mailing vendor theory. In other words, the FDCPA is meant to be ‘a shield for debtors, not a sword for lawyers.’ ”

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