Judge Grants MSJ for Defendant in FDCPA Case Over Dual Collection Letters

A District Court judge in Indiana has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling the plaintiff did not suffer a concrete injury after receiving two collection letters from the defendant on the same day — each signed by a different attorney.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Dietz v. Med-1 Solutions can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff incurred a medical debt that was placed with the defendant for collection. The defendant sent a bill to the plaintiff, but because the plaintiff was unemployed when she received it, she did not make a payment. She did intend to make payment arrangements once she obtained a “steady income,” she testified. A month after sending the bill, the defendant called the plaintiff, who indicated during the call that she was now considering filing for bankruptcy protection. Five months after the call, the plaintiff retained an attorney to help with filing for bankruptcy. The next month, the plaintiff received two letters from the defendant — on the same day. Each letter was signed by a different attorney.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging that the two letters violated Section 1692e(3) of the FDCPA because they implied that the attorneys were involved in collecting the debt.

In filing its motion for summary judgment, the defendant argued that the plaintiff did not suffer a concrete injury and therefore does not have standing to sue in federal court. The plaintiff claimed that the concrete harm she suffered after receiving the two letters came in the form of stress, confusion, and sleeplessness, and affected her decision whether to try and repay the debt or file for bankruptcy protection.

Ultimately, because the plaintiff neither attempted to pay the debt or file for bankruptcy protection, she lacked standing to sue, ruled Judge James Patrick Hanlon of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

“Here, Ms. Dietz has not designated evidence that she was examined for or diagnosed with a medical condition related to her loss of sleep,” Judge Hanlon wrote. “This case is similar to Wadsworth, where the Seventh Circuit found that the plaintiff had not established standing even though she had designated evidence that she ‘got less sleep and felt intimidated, worried, and embarrassed’ as a result of the alleged FDCPA violation.”

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