A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class action case, determining that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because he did not suffer a concrete injury after alleging the defendant violated the statute by sending a collection letter to the plaintiff in which the plaintiff did not recognize the name of the creditor to whom the debt was owed.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Ergas v. Eastpoint Recovery Group can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, seeking to recover $9,700. The letter identified the name of the original creditor — Pentagon Federal Credit Union — as well the name of the current creditor to whom the debt was owed.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging that the amount that was claimed to be owed was not owed to the defendants, and that the letter erroneously claimed that the current creditor to whom the debt was owed was not the owner of the debt.
But, as become the standard question asked by federal judges across the country in these types of cases, what did the plaintiff do after receiving the letter? The answer to that question is essentially what establishes whether the plaintiff has standing to sue or not, because the answer is what determines whether the plaintiff suffered a concrete injury or not.
In this case, the answer was that the plaintiff did nothing, other than to file the lawsuit in question. The plaintiff claimed to have suffered emotional distress, but testified that did not seek medical attention.
“The present case here is at the summary judgment stage and requires proof of injury-in-fact beyond the sufficiency of Plaintiff’s allegations of an injury,” wrote Judge William M. Skretny of the District Court for the Western District of New York. “Plaintiff states in his responding Declaration that his stress came from not knowing how his personal information was learned by Defendant. Plaintiff did not seek medical attention for the emotional distress he suffered; failure to seek medical treatment is material in establishing the extent of Plaintiff’s injury (in any) from the emotional distress. Plaintiff explains that he worried and had “great . . . apprehension after” receiving the dunning letter. Plaintiff has not established that he suffered an injury-in-fact from his emotional distress arising from the dunning letter.”