Judge Denies Motion to Remand FDCPA Case Over Text Messages, Voicemails Back to State Court

A District Court judge in California has denied a motion to remand a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class-action lawsuit back to state court, ruling that the content of text messages and voicemails sent to the plaintiff by the defendant establish standing for the plaintiff’s claim to remain in federal court.

Background: The plaintiff claimed to have received 15 text messages and voicemails from the defendant during a four-month span in 2021. The complaint accuses the defendant of not disclosing the nature of their business, not disclosing that they are attempting to collect a debt, instilling a false sense of urgency, and falsely implying that a lawsuit has been filed or will be filed to collect on the debt.

  • The plaintiff filed the class action in California state court, and the defendant moved the case to federal court.
  • The plaintiff attempted to claim that the messages were nothing more than a “bare, procedural violation” of the FDCPA.

Turning Point: Other cases involving unwanted or unsolicited text messages have been found to constitute a concrete injury, and the harm of receiving unwanted and misleading voicemails and text messages speaks to the reasons why Congress enacted the FDCPA in the first place, noted Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the District Court for the Northern District of California.

Last Word: “Plaintiff alleges violations of the FDCPA provisions prohibiting debt collectors from: ‘communicat[ing] with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual time or place’; ‘engag[ing] in conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt’; and ‘us[ing] false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.’ These are substantive provisions that fulfill the statute’s purpose ‘to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors.’ “

“Congress’s views instruct that a consumer’s right to be free from unwanted and misleading messages is a substantive right under the FDCPA and reinforce the conclusion that violation of that right is a concrete harm.”

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