Having previously dismissed four of the five claims in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, a District Court judge in New Jersey has gone five-for-five, dismissing the final claim, ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because she did not suffer a concrete injury after accusing the defendant of using a vendor to print and mail two collection letters that were sent to her.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Nuamah-Williams v. Frontline Asset Strategies can be accessed by clicking here.
The defendant sent two collection letters to the plaintiff attempting to collect on an unpaid debt. About nine months after the second letter was sent the creditor filed a collection lawsuit to collect on the debt. The plaintiff filed a counterclaim, accusing the defendant of violating the FDCPA by having the defendant mail her the letters, which were printed and mailed by a third party and include her mailing address, account number, and total amount that was owed. That case was ultimately jointly dismissed, but about a month before that happened, the plaintiff filed this suit in federal court, accusing the defendant of violating several sections of the FDCPA when it used a third-party vendor to print and mail the collection letters that were sent. The plaintiff filed a five count complaint, alleging the defendant violated Section 1692c(b), the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and Sections 1692d and 1692f of the FDCPA.
Even if the employees of the vendor used to print and mail the letters had read them, the plaintiff still would not have suffered a concrete injury and would not have standing to sue, ruled Judge William D. Martini of the District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Perhaps the disclosure was a “bare, procedural harm” of the FDCPA, Judge Martini noted, but the plaintiff “has not plead facts that show she suffered the ‘real harm of abusive, harassing, and deceptive debt collection practices’ that the FDCPA is intended to address,” Judge Martini wrote. “The FDCPA ‘is not meant to provide a cause of action for the imaginary harm proposed by the mailing vendor theory.’ ”