Judge Remands Hunstein Case Back to State Court for Lack of Standing

Even though she explicitly states she is not taking a position on the topic, Judge Yvette Kane of the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania did say in a ruling remanding a Hunstein case back to state court for lack of standing that a defendant providing a plaintiff’s information to a vendor who then printed and mailed a collection letter to the plaintiff “is insufficient to establish publicity.”

A copy of the ruling in the case of Burris v. Weltman, Weinberg & Reis can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff filed suit in Pennsylvania state court after receiving a collection letter from the defendant. The plaintiff claims the defendant violation Section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA by disclosing information about the debt to an unauthorized third party — the vendor that was used to print and mail the letter.

The defendant removed the case to federal court and filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings.

In his complaint, the plaintiff did not allege to have suffered any injuries because his information was allegedly disclosed without his consent. Instead, he sought damages based on the fact that the defendant provided his information to the vendor.

Looking at the ruling from the Supreme Court in TransUnion v. Ramirez, Judge Kane sought to tackle whether the public disclosure of private facts required publicity. “Application of these principles to the facts of this case compels the conclusion that Defendant’s act in providing Plaintiff’s information to a mail vendor, which then generated and mailed Plaintiff a dunning letter, is insufficient to establish publicity,” Judge Kane wrote.

But because that was the tentpole holding up the argument that the plaintiff had suffered a concrete injury, the fact that such a disclosure was “insufficiently close” to the claim being made in this case, the plaintiff ultimately did not suffer a concrete injury and required that the case be remanded back to state court, Judge Kane ruled.

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