We have seen defendants get taken to the woodshed for removing cases filed in state court to federal court, only then to file motions to dismiss, arguing the plaintiffs lack standing. But, much like a plaintiff needing to show a concrete injury in order to show he or she has standing, if a defendant attempts to defend a case before seeking to have it dismissed for lack of standing, that is an entirely different ballgame. A Magistrate judge in Missouri has denied a plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling the defendant had an objectively reasonable basis for removing the case in the first place.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Stone v. J&M Securities can be accessed by clicking here.
This case has had a long and winding road to get to this point. The plaintiffs filed suit in state court, alleging the defendant violated the FDCPA and state law in Missouri by abusing the process of serving a summons and complaint and wrongful garnishment. The defendant removed the case to federal court, received a partial motion to dismiss, and engaged in discovery and dispute resolution before filing a motion for summary judgment, arguing the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because there was no evidence that the plaintiffs suffered a concrete injury. The judge granted the motion, but that triggered the plaintiffs to file their motion for reconsideration, arguing that if they lacked standing, the only option was to remand the case back to state court. After the case was remanded, the plaintiffs filed their motion for attorney’s fees and costs.
Because the defendant litigated the case in federal court for nearly a year before raising the issue of standing, its decision to remove the case to federal court was not undermined, ruled Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah of the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.