Who gets a collection letter saying that you now owe less than what you originally did and chooses to file a lawsuit claiming the discrepancy was too misleading and confusing? While the District Court judge didn’t get to address that issue, she did grant the defendant’s motion to dismiss on the grounds the plaintiff lacked standing to sue.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Stanger v. Resurgent Capital Services can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. The letter indicated the current balance on the debt was $5,055.36 and that the balance at the time the debt’s owner acquired it was $5,093.36. The plaintiff was confused because he had not made a payment on the debt in three years.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it was attempting to collect on a nonsensical and mathematically incorrect debt, and that the balance inconsistency made him believe the letter was fraudulent. Along with being confused, the plaintiff spent the funds he would have used to pay the debt on other expenses, and suffered from emotional distress, an increased heartrate, and difficulty sleeping.
Unfortunately for the plaintiff, none of the injuries he alleged to have suffered rise to the level of a concrete injury, ruled Judge Andrea R. Wood of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. “… the Court finds that having difficulty sleeping as a result of collection-letter induced anxiety is nothing more than the type of purely psychological harm that is insufficient to support standing,” Judge Wood wrote. “Also unavailing as a physical manifestation is Stanger’s increased heartrate — as that is simply a physiological response to emotions like fear, anxiety, and stress. If an increased heartrate were enough to concretize those emotional injuries, then the ‘physical manifestations’ exception would swallow the rule that emotional injuries, by themselves, are not a cognizable injury in fact.”