WDWA Judge Dismisses Case Involving Assigned Claim

A District Court judge in Washington has joined his brethren in Oklahoma and dismissed a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case filed by an individual who was assigned a claim from a consumer, ruling the plaintiff lacks standing to sue.

A copy of the ruling in the case of James v. Puget Sound Collections and State Collection Service can be accessed by clicking here.

The facts of this case appear to be similar to a string of lawsuits that were filed in Oklahoma by an individual who had purported FDCPA claims assigned to him by the individuals who were allegedly harmed by the actions of a debt collector. In a pair of lawsuits — Dotson v. Enhanced Recovery Co. and Dotson v. Ad Astra Recovery Services et al — judges have ruled that FDCPA claims are not assignable to third parties.

In this case, the individual who suffered the alleged injury claimed that the defendants improperly reported information about her debt to the credit reporting agencies. That individual, in turn, assigned the claim to the plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit. But the alleged injuries that were suffered were suffered by the individual, and not the plaintiff, noted Judge Robert K. Bryan of the District Court for the Western District of Washington. The FDCPA, Judge Bryan wrote, “specifically provides for recovery of damages with respect to ‘such person’ that was a victim of a violation of the FDCPA.”

Furthermore, state law in Washington does not allow for a cause of action for the recovery of a penalty to be assigned to a third party unless there is a specific statutory authority to do so, and there is nothing in the FDCPA that allows for a claim to be assigned to a third party, Judge Bryan noted.

To make sure the door stays shut, Judge Bryan also ruled that the suit be dismissed with prejudice, thus precluding the plaintiff from attempting to file an amended complaint.

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