A win is a win, right? Regardless of how it’s accomplished? A District Court judge in New Jersey has dismissed a plaintiff’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class-action lawsuit over the contents of a letter responding to a debt verification request on the grounds the plaintiff lacked standing to sue, never getting to the merits of a motion to dismiss that was filed by the defendants.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Winter v. Resurgent Capital Services et al. can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a letter in response to a request she sent seeking verification of the debt. The response also included a validation notice and an account summary. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter failed to indicate that the statute of limitations on the debt would restart if a payment was made, that the account summary failed to note why the balance had increased, and that the validation notice contained conflicting statements about whether the validation of the debt was completed.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, among other reasons, that the plaintiff failed to state a claim because the letter was not a communication in connection with the collection of a debt and that it did not include contradictory statements. But before he could get to the merits, Judge Zahid N. Quraishi of the District Court for the District of New Jersey decided to look at whether the plaintiff had standing to sue in the first place.
Where the plaintiff alleged that a statutory violation alone is sufficient to have standing, while also claiming to have suffered from confusion about how to handle the debt or exercise her statutory authority while also wasting time and money, none of that is enough for her to have standing to sue, Judge Quraishi ruled. “Here, Plaintiff does not allege that she failed to take advantage of her dispute rights under the FDCPA because of the alleged confusion that the Letter’s deceptive, misleading and unfair representations caused,” the judge wrote. “Further, while Plaintiff has established her inaction following receipt of the Letter, she fails to allege or explain how her inability to act was a direct consequence of the Letter itself.”