The march on standing at the District Court level has created a new dynamic — or at least the threat of a new dynamic — for collection operations, and that is facing Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases in state courts. State courts are less predictable than their federal counterparts and also may have different thresholds for determining whether a plaintiff suffered enough of an injury to have standing to sue. The industry is seeing a growing number of cases affirming that plaintiffs still need to have suffered a concrete injury in order to sue, and the Indiana Supreme Court recently added its state to that list.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Hoosier Contractors v. Gardner can be accessed by clicking here.
The defendant asked the plaintiff to inspect the roof of his house. Before doing so, the plaintiff required the defendant sign a contract for the plaintiff to perform any work needed to repair the roof. The defendant refused to let the plaintiff fix the roof, so the plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging a breach of contract. The defendant filed a class-action counterclaim, and the case ultimately ended up before the state Supreme Court to determine if the members of the defendant’s class had standing to sue.
The Supreme Court ruling needed only one sentence to indicate its position — “Indiana law is clear that standing requires an injury,” the Supreme Court wrote, “which is met if the party shows it ‘ha[s] suffered or [is] in immediate danger of suffering a direct injury as a result of the complained-of conduct.’ “
In issuing its ruling, the Supreme Court refers to a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case — Casillas v. Madison Avenue Associates — because it ruled that a plaintiff does not have standing just because Congress authorized plaintiffs to sue collectors who fail to comply with any requirement of the FDCPA.