The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York recently dismissed a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) action because the plaintiff could not demonstrate a concrete injury. See Bush v. Optio Sols., LLC, 2021 WL 3201359 (E.D.N.Y. 2021). In this case, the plaintiff claimed that an “alleged debt” was transferred to defendant for collection while the alleged debt was in default. The defendant then caused a single collection letter to be sent to plaintiff, reflecting defendant’s effort to collect a debt of $678.94 from plaintiff for a fuel oil delivery to her home. The plaintiff claimed two causes of action for violations of the FDCPA: (1) the failure of the debt collector to provide unspecified information required under 15 U.S.C. § 1692g, and (2) an alleged deception arising from the fact that the letter, by stating that the “thirty (30) day verification period has passed,” and that plaintiff could “avoid further collection activity on this item by paying in full,” falsely implied that the plaintiff had waived a right to challenge the debt. The plaintiff later amended her complaint to add allegations and a third count charging a violation arising from the defendant’s disclosure of plaintiff’s private and sensitive information to a third-party mailing vendor in sending her the single collection notice. The plaintiff then filed a bankruptcy petition after filing this action. In June 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court decided TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021), a Fair Credit Reporting Act decision that the Bush court said required it to examine whether the plaintiff had alleged a concrete, particularized injury. As such, the Bush court issued an order to show cause directing plaintiff to identify “any concrete, particularized injury in fact from the statutory violations alleged herein.”
After receiving the parties’ responses, the Court lifted the automatic stay and dismissed the action. The Court held that because the only injury asserted by the plaintiff arose from the “mailing vendor” theory, that plaintiff has failed to identify any injury in fact. The Court reasoned that the “mailing vendor” theory did not appear viable in the wake of TransUnion, and emphasized that the plaintiff’s private and sensitive information had been rendered public information by the plaintiff herself in her bankruptcy petition. As such, the Court found that the plaintiff was not injured in any appreciable way by the communication of this information to a mailing vendor and dismissed the case.
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