Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Class Action Over Different Settlement Offers in Letters

A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class-action, albeit for lack of standing even though both sides agreed that the plaintiff suffered a concrete injury, after the plaintiff received two collection letters that offered to settle the unpaid debt for different amounts.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Steinmetz v. Allied Interstate can be accessed by clicking here.

Eight days apart, the plaintiff received two letters from the defendant, in regards to an unpaid debt of $669.45. One offered to resolve the debt if the plaintiff made a payment of $0.00 and the other said the debt could be resolved with a payment of $575.73.

The plaintiff filed suit, accusing the defendant of violating Sections 1692e and 1692g of the FDCPA. The 1692e claim relates to sending two letters with statements that are open to more than one reasonable interpretation, and the 1692g claim relates to providing an inaccurate representation of how much the plaintiff needed to pay to satisfy the outstanding debt in full.

Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York then directed both parties to file briefs on whether the plaintiff’s claim that he “had to spend time and money” investigating the letters and their consequences met the threshold for having standing to sue. While both parties tried to convince Judge Donnelly that the plaintiff had standing, she ultimately disagreed.

The plaintiff’s vagueness — he did not explain how or on what he spent the time and money he claimed in the complaint — did not go far enough to confer standing, Judge Donnelly ruled. The plaintiff attempted to argue that his excitement over thinking he did not have to make a payment because the letter said he owed nothing was not enough to convince the judge.

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