Judge Grants MSJ in FDCPA Case Lack of Standing

A District Court judge in Wisconsin has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ruling a plaintiff lacked standing to sue, in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, while also calling on the plaintiff’s counsel to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for “egregious” omissions that were made in a brief.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Endres v. UHG I LLC can be accessed by clicking here.

The ruling has plenty of the background, but the high points are essentially this: the plaintiff defaulted on a loan that was purchased by the defendant, who placed the account with a law firm for collection. After filing a collection suit against the plaintiff, she contacted the law firm and worked out a payment plan. A representative of the law firm sent an updated copy of the stipulation agreement to the wrong email address, so it was never received by the plaintiff. A default judgment was entered against the plaintiff, at which point she contacted an attorney. The attorney filed a motion to reopen the case, at which point the law firm realized the stipulation never made it to the plaintiff. The collection lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendants violated Section 1692e and 1692f of the FDCPA as well as state law in Wisconsin.

For each of the plaintiff’s arguments, though, Judge William M. Conley of the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin has a “however” that rebuts the claims made by the plaintiff. Ultimately, the plaintiff did not make any payment on the debt and thus did not suffer a concrete injury sufficient for her to have standing to sue.

“At most, plaintiff represents that the stipulation almost resulted in her paying UHG I $4,881.60,” Judge Conley wrote. “This so-called ‘risk,’ is also not proof of actual injury to establish standing under Seventh Circuit case law. Again, unlike risk of financial harm caused by misrepresentations on a credit report, the risk that she would pay the wrong company was for a finite period of time that resolved before she ever paid or filed this lawsuit; unlike the risk of financial harm based on actions by prospective creditors, it was also always within her control.”

Judge Conley also called out “glaring deficiencies” from the plaintiff’s counsel for failing to acknowledge the Supreme Court’s ruling in Henson v. Santander when arguing that the defendant — a passive debt buyer — met the definition of a “debt collector” under the FDCPA, as well as a ruling issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was issued a year before this complaint was filed.

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