Judge Grants Summary Judgment for Defendant in FDCPA Case, After Ruling Receipt of Letter Enough for Standing

A District Court judge in Pennsylvania has granted summary judgment in favor of a defendant that was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act a second time, after the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, ruling that a collection letter sent to the plaintiff was not false, deceptive, misleading, unfair or unconscionable. Separately, what makes this ruling interesting is that the judge ruled that receiving an allegedly deceptive letter is enough for the plaintiff to have standing to pursue the claim in federal court.

A copy of the ruling, in the case of Ricks v. MediCredit can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff was treated at a hospital after being in an automobile accident. The plaintiff received two bills — one from the hospital for $675 — which was adjusted from $900 because the plaintiff lacked insurance, and one from a doctor’s network for $468. The hospital placed the unpaid account with the defendant, which then sent a collection letter to the plaintiff. The letter was the only contact between the plaintiff and the defendant.

State law in Pennsylvania places limits on how much medical institutions can charge individuals involved in automobile accidents, and the plaintiff claims the amount being sought exceeded that limit. The code used in the bill from the doctor’s network referenced this provision, while the bill from the hospital did not mention it. The plaintiff claims the defendant was required to adjust the total amount owed before attempting to collect on the debt.

Ultimately, the plaintiff did not provide enough evidence to prove that the amount billed by the hospital violated state law, ruled Judge Cynthia Rufe of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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