Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Class Action Over Letter

A District Court judge in New Jersey has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a class-action Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling the plaintiff lacked standing for any of the six claims that he made, including alleging that his information was shared with a letter vendor and unlawfully disclosed his status as a debtor.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Jackson v. I.C. System can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. The plaintiff alleged the letter contained no less than six violations of the FDCPA, including:

  1. The Letter falsely implied that Plaintiff’s account would be reported to credit reporting agencies.
  2. The Letter misrepresented when Plaintiff’s account could and/or would be reported to the credit reporting agencies.
  3. The Letter did not clearly convey how to dispute the debt because it listed three different addresses.
  4. The Letter unlawfully disclosed Plaintiff’s confidential information and status as a debtor to a third-party letter vendor who actually mailed the Letter.
  5. The Letter listed “Service Location: Ashraf, Waseem,” rendering the letter “confusing and misleading.”
  6. The Letter “is unclear as to who Defendant represents.”

Applying the standard set by the Supreme Court in TransUnion v. Ramirez, Judge Evelyn Padin of the District Court for the District of New Jersey made short work of claims 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6, ruling that the confusion the plaintiff allegedly suffered with respect to those claims was not enough to have standing to sue, citing no fewer than three precedents.

On the remaining claim — that his information was disclosed to a third party when the defendant sent it to a vendor to print and mail the letter that was sent — Judge Padin had the ruling in Hunstein v. Preferred Management & Collection Services to fall back on. While the plaintiff had the original Hunstein ruling and cases that were ruled on before TransUnion, the defendant had the final Hunstein ruling and everything that has followed.

“… a debt collector sharing a debtor’s information with a vendor who simply mails information back to that debtor ‘cannot be said to have a ‘close relationship’ with a tort which, at its core, requires either actual public disclosure or a substantial certainty that the disclosed information will reach the public at large, ” Judge Padin wrote.

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