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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court grants defendant MSJ over cross-motions on a dispute on different debt owed amounts

Courts Debt Collection FDCPA Standing

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On February 2, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania held that a plaintiff had standing to bring two FDCPA claims, but remanded the plaintiff’s third claim for lack of standing. The Court also granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgement as part of a cross-motion. The plaintiff is an individual suing a debt collection company for allegedly attempting to collect a debt improperly and misrepresenting the amount the plaintiff owed under the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692. The District Court was presented with cross-motions for summary judgment filed by both parties, and supplemental briefing on Article III standing. 

The court first determined that the plaintiff, an individual, had Article III standing in two of three of her FDCPA claims, but that the defendant was entitled to summary judgment on those claims. The Court agreed the plaintiff had Article III standing for the 1692(e) claim that the defendant misrepresented the amount of debt owed when the defendant listed the debt of $22.95 but then attached account statements showing a balance of $271.34. However, the court found that the least sophisticated debtor would understand the collection letter to unambiguously represent that the total amount of debt owed is $22.95. The plaintiff also had standing for her informational injury claim that the defendant violated § 1692g by restarting its collection activity despite having failed to provide information that validated the debt owed of $22.95. However, the court found that the defendant sufficiently validated the debt despite attachments showing a larger balance because “it was not required to show detailed files of the debt, bills, or other evidence.”  Regarding the third claim, on that the defendant violated § 1692f when it sent the debt verification to an email the plaintiff owns (but claims is a secondary email), the Court found the plaintiff did not have standing since the plaintiff had not suffered concrete injury.