Judge Dismisses FDCPA Case Over Allegedly Rude & Harassing Interactions for Lack of Standing

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss, albeit giving the plaintiff an opportunity to amend her complaint, in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case because she lacked standing to sue, ruling that the behavior of the defendant’s representatives alleged in the complaint did not reach the level of a concrete injury.

Backstory: The ruling from Judge Iain D. Johnston of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois contains a lot of background, including transcripts from a number of calls between the plaintiff and representatives of the defendant. The plaintiff alleges that some of the representatives were rude and harassing and that the company employed a “good cop, bad cop” routine to get her to pay her debt, and then allegedly withdrawing funds from her bank account without her approval.

Why This Matters: Judge Johnston made quick work of the plaintiff’s claim of having suffered anxiety and emotional distress, ruling that such injuries do not rise to the level of standing, especially within the Seventh Circuit, which has led the way in setting the bar for standing in FDCPA cases. With respect to the allegations that the defendant withdrew funds from the plaintiff’s bank account without the required approval, it was the plaintiff who initiated that particular phone call and expressed an interest in repaying the debt in full, Judge Johnston noted.

The Last Word: “She even made a point to confirm that the funds would be withdrawn without her having to call back because she would likely be at work,” Judge Johnston recounted. “The I.Q. Data employee, not Wilkinson, was the individual that asked Wilkinson to call back just to confirm that her account had been satisfied in full. The allegation that I.Q. Data waited a couple of days longer to charge the card is of no consequence — she has not alleged how the delay harmed her in any way.”

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