Judge Grants MTD in Hunstein Case for Second Time Over Lack of Standing

Strike two.

A plaintiff alleging a collection agency violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using a letter vendor to print and mail the collection letter she received has had her case dismissed by a federal judge for lack of standing, although this time the judge is not giving the plaintiff a third kick at the can.

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

After trying once to convince Judge Jospeh F. Leeson, Jr., of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that the defendant’s use of a letter vendor constituted a third-party disclosure and thus violated Section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, essentially copying and pasting the original complaint, but adding a few new details that she hoped was enough to convince Judge Leeson that she had suffered a concrete injury. No dice, Judge Leeson ruled.

The amended complaint included a claim that the vendor in question has multiple locations and employ hundreds of people and that any one of those employees could have viewed her information while it was preparing her letter to be sent. The plaintiff also claimed that the vendor had, in the past, “allowed public dissemination of private consumer information without the consumer’s consent.” Finally, in the amended complaint, the plaintiff cited two cases where plaintiffs were found to have standing in cases involving a mail vendor, but in those cases, the vendor placed information on the outside of an envelope — a completely different situation than the one in this case, Judge Leeson noted.

As for the first two claims, the issue for the plaintiff is that while employees of the plaintiff could have seen her information, the plaintiff does not claim that anyone did, in fact, see it. “The fact that employees could have viewed her personal information is not the same as alleging that employees did view her personal information,” Judge Leeson wrote. And while the information about others may have been publicized, the plaintiff’s information was not part of that publication, Judge Leeson noted.

“Indeed, the fact that her information has not been publicized yet-more than one year since she received the letter-suggests that the information will likely never be publicized,” he wrote.

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