A District Court judge in Florida has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class action case because the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction after the plaintiff attempted a somewhat novel strategy to prove she had standing to pursue her case in federal court.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Suazo v. Resurgent Capital Services can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received an email from a collector attempting to collect on a debt. The email included a copy of the validation notice, giving the plaintiff 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt or any portion thereof. Four months later, the plaintiff sent the agency a letter disputing the debt. The agency forwarded the letter to the defendant. The defendant responded to the plaintiff’s letter by sending two letters of its own. The first letter included another validation notice but also informed the plaintiff that it had initiated a review of the inquiry received by the collection agency. The second letter provided the validation information that the plaintiff had requested.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the first letter sent by the defendant violated the FDCPA because in one part of the letter the plaintiff is led to believe that the account is already under review, and in another part of the letter, it says the plaintiff has 30 days to dispute the debt. Neither the plaintiff, nor the defendant or the collection agency made any attempt to contact each other after the defendant sent the two letters to the plaintiff.
The crux of the plaintiff’s argument why she had standing to sue was because she forfeited her validation rights, which bears a close relationship to the common law torts of misrepresentation and fraud. But, as Judge Jose E. Martinez of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida put it, “… Plaintiff provides no evidence whatsoever that her confusion led to her suffering any harm, tangible or intangible. Despite ample opportunity to do so, Plaintiff cannot point to any record evidence to show that she suffered anything other than conjectural or hypothetical injuries. Plaintiff does not even provide a single example of how she was injured beyond her confusion in her Counterstatement of Undisputed Material Facts filed in response to the Motion. And Plaintiff did not allege or argue that she made any payments towards the debt as a result of having received correspondence from Defendants, and she otherwise fails to allege or argue that she relied on Defendants’ alleged misrepresentations.”