Judge Dismisses Case Claiming Reg F Violation for Lack of Standing

In a case involving a claim that a defendant violated one of the provisions of Regulation F, a District Court judge in New York has dismissed a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling the plaintiff lacked standing to sue after receiving a letter that, among other issues, failed to include an itemization of the debt.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Clarke v. McCabe, Weisberg & Conway can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a letter from the defendant in regards to an unpaid debt. The letter, according to the plaintiff, failed to itemize the debt in question, as required by Section 1006.34(b) of Regulation F, mis-identified the creditor by leaving out one character, and because it was sent directly to the plaintiff instead of to her attorney. The complaint did not, according to Judge Rachel P. Kovner of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, were “allegations that these statutory violations caused plaintiff any injury whatsoever.” Judge Kovner directed the plaintiff to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of standing, and the plaintiff made four arguments:

  • that she expended “attorney time” discussing a “useless” letter
  • that she did not make “further attempts to settle” her debt that she would have made if she received an itemization
  • that the letter caused her “economic stress”
  • that omissions of a “payoff figure” make it more difficult to refinance the debt

Judge Kovner first noted that consulting with an attorney is not enough to confer standing. Then, after noting that the plaintiff may have established standing if she plausibly alleged that she would have actually settled the debt if the letter had complied with the FDCPA, Judge Kovner points out that the plaintiff did not mention what offer she would have made, any prior settlement attempts, or responses from the creditor. “In the absence of any such facts, plaintiff has alleged no more than that the letter’s asserted deficiencies led her to refrain from expending effort on settlement-not a concrete harm,” the judge wrote.

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