In a case that was defended by the team at Malone Lyons Watts Morgan, a District Court judge in California has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because he testified during his deposition that he never read the letter that was the basis for the suit in the first place.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Stephens v. I.C. System can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff sent a letter to the defendant indicating he was refusing to pay the debt. The defendant responded with a cease communication letter, saying it was terminating further collection efforts and would not communicate with the plaintiff unless he initiated it. The letter also informed the plaintiff that the debt had been marked as disputed with the credit reporting agencies.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692c and 1692e of the FDCPA as well as Section 1788.18 of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. He claimed the letter invaded his privacy and caused him emotional distress. He also claimed to have suffered a concrete injury because he had to pay for a stamp to mail his cease communication letter to the defendant in the first place.
But, while being deposed, the plaintiff admitted he had never seen the letter prior to being shown it at his deposition.
Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the District Court for the Central District of California was not convinced by the plaintiff’s arguments that he suffered a concrete injury.
“… while the FDCPA may reinforce a consumer’s substantive right to be free from unwanted and misleading letters, there is no evidence here to suggest that the ICS letter harmed Plaintiff in any way,” wrote Judge Fitzgerald. “The substantive right Congress meant to protect with the FDCPA cannot arise from mere receipt of a letter.”