For those of you keeping track of what does not constitute standing to sue in federal court, you can add receiving a collection letter that makes it appear you are responsible for a debt owed by your dead husband that includes an account number that is different from the account number that had previously been provided to you.
The Background: The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. The letter references an account that ended in 6026, but the defendant had previously indicated that it was collecting an account that ended in 0310. The letter also purports to collect from the plaintiff as if she were personally liable for the debt of her deceased husband, which she is not. The letter also provided only one option for the plaintiff to obtain more information about the debt — calling the defendant. The plaintiff was “fearful” to call because she did not want to be pressured into taking an action she did not want to take. The conflicting account numbers made it seem like this was a scam so she did not make any payment on the debt.
- The plaintiff allegedly expended time and money to mitigate the risk of future financial harm, in the form of the defendant’s negative credit information furnishing, while also allegedly suffering from stress, anxiety, and fear that manifested itself in an increased heartrate.
- The plaintiff accused the defendant of violating Section 1692e and 1692g of the FDCPA.
The Ruling: Even though the plaintiff did not respond to the defendant’s argument that she did not suffer a concrete injury, which would be sufficient for the judge to grant the defendant’s motion, Judge Henry Edward Autrey pf the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri breaks down why the plaintiff did not have standing anyway.
- The plaintiff’s claim of suffering a loss of “money” is not specific enough to be a tangible injury and confer standing to sue, Judge Autrey ruled.
- The claim of suffering “fear, anxiety, and stress” is also too bare of an allegation to confer standing.
- Judge Autrey put it best when he wrote, “Without a concrete injury in-fact, the Court would be authorizing any plaintiff to sue a defendant for compliance with regulatory law, instead of seeking to remedy harm to his or herself.”