Judge Grants MSJ in FDCPA Case Involving Hunstein Claim

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, illustrating why it’s a good decision sometimes to take the extra steps of going through discovery instead of attempting to win on a motion to dismiss, while also potentially providing some ammunition for anyone fighting Hunstein lawsuits.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Tukin v. Halsted Financial Services can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff filed suit over a collection letter he received from the defendant, making a laundry list of allegations. He claimed the defendant violated Section 1692e of the FDCPA because the letter improperly listed the current owner of the debt, Section 1692g of the FDCPA because the letter failed to contain the statutorily required notices for initial communications, Section 1692f because a code was visible on the outside of the envelope, and Section 1692c(b) because a third party was used to print and mail the letter.

The plaintiff claimed to have suffered concern and confusion and was forced to retain counsel after receiving the letter from the defendant. Most of you will know that this is not enough for a plaintiff to have standing to sue. And Judge Andrea R. Wood of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois was already there. But, the plaintiff testified during his deposition that not only could he not identify any other damages, he actually benefitted from receiving the letter because he was able to pay off his debt for less than the amount owed.

That took care of the 1692e and 1692g claims. Moving on to the 1692f claim, because the plaintiff was unable to show any injury beyond feelings of concern and worry, again he lacked standing. As well, the display of the Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail Code on an envelope is not a violation of Section 1692f(8) of the FDCPA.

That left just the 1692c(b) claim. The plaintiff did not dispute that the vendor in question did “not analyze, modify, or manipulate the data and letters transmitted to it for printing, or that the data used to print and mail those letters was secure and encrypted at all times it was in” the vendor’s possession, Judge Wood wrote. “Indeed, he does not dispute that no individual had access to the unencrypted data. Put simply, Tukin has not provided any evidence that his information was disclosed nor can he show a resulting injury from that disclosure.”

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