Judge Grants MTD for Lack of Standing in FDCPA Case Where Letter was Sent to Represented Individual

Sending a letter to an individual who is represented by an attorney is not automatically a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a District Court judge in Illinois has ruled, determining that the injuries alleged to have been suffered by the plaintiff were not sufficient for the plaintiff to have standing to sue.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Simpson v. Revco Solutions can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff sent the defendant a letter notifying it that she was being represented by an attorney. The defendant allegedly sent a letter to the plaintiff after receiving the notification, and the plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692c(a)(2), 1692e, and 1692f of the FDCPA. The plaintiff claims that the letter caused her “actual financial harm and monetary losses” and “undue stress and anxiety” while also bearing a close relationship to invasion of privacy, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent misrepresentation.

But this is Illinois, where the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has been on a drive for two years on the topic of standing in FDCPA cases, giving Judge J. Phil Gilbert of the District Court for the Southern District of Illinois plenty of precedents to choose from.

Judge Gilbert first tossed the plaintiff’s claims related to emotional harms — undue stress and anxiety — because they did not manifest themselves physically in any way and because the plaintiff did not detail what she did after suffering the emotional injuries.

Moving on to the claim of financial harm and monetary losses, the plaintiff’s complaint was not specific enough about what those harms and losses were, Judge Gilbert ruled.

Finally, on the claim that the letter was an invasion of the plaintiff’s privacy and an intrusion into her private affairs, Judge Gilbert agreed with the defendant that “a mere receipt of a letter could not be highly offensive to a reasonable person.”

“Being informed of an outstanding debt can sometimes be a stressful experience, but federal courts may entertain FDCPA claims only when the plaintiff suffers a concrete harm that she would not have incurred had the debt collector complied with the Act,” Judge Gilbert wrote in granting the motion to dismiss.

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