Judge Rules Plaintiff Lacks Standing in FDCPA Case Because Collection Letters Were Never Opened

A District Court judge in New Jersey has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because even though she accused the defendant of sending her 85 collection letters, she never claimed to have opened any of them.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Rodriguez v. Awar Holding can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff allegedly received 85 collection letters from the defendant attempting to collect on an unpaid medical debt. The letters could be grouped into six distinct categories — Collection Notice, Second Notice, Third Notice, Credit Reporting Notice, Notice of Credit Impairment, and Pre-Legal Notice. The plaintiff alleged that some of the letters violated the FDCPA because they included misleading communications and did not properly identify the creditor to whom the debt was owed.

Ultimately, even though the plaintiff was on her third amended complaint, she never alleged to have suffered a concrete injury from the letters. While noting that at this stage in the case, on a motion to dismiss, he must make “all reasonable inference in favor of the plaintiff,” Judge Kevin McNulty of the District Court for the District of New Jersey also said that he can only make inferences based on the facts that are alleged.

“For purposes of standing, an unread letter is no different from one that was never sent,” Judge McNulty wrote. “Words on a page, without something more, cannot have misled or harmed anyone. The complaint fails to allege anything further.”

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