District Court Grants Summary Judgment for Defendant in FDCPA Lawsuit

On August 25, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in an FDCPA case, finding that the plaintiff suffered no material harm after receiving two collection letters from defendant’s attorneys on the same day. According to the order, the plaintiff had a medical debt which was placed with the defendant for collection. The defendant sent the plaintiff an invoice, but because the plaintiff was unemployed when she received it, she did not make a payment and “planned to put a payment plan in place once she would have obtained a ‘stable income'”. A month after sending the invoice, the defendant called the plaintiff, and during the call, the plaintiff noted that she was considering filing for bankruptcy. The plaintiff then retained the services of a lawyer to help him file for bankruptcy. Later that year, the plaintiff received two letters on the same day from the defendant, from two separate attorneys, both asking her to pay the bill. Plaintiff sued Defendant, alleging that the collection letters violated the FDCPA because they falsely implied that Defendant’s attorneys were personally involved in collecting his debt. The plaintiff claimed to have suffered concrete harm after receiving the letters in the form of emotional stress and confusion, which influenced her decision to repay the debt or file for bankruptcy. The court granted the defendant summary judgment, ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing because she had failed to provide “evidence of specific facts showing that the collection letters caused her to take action to his detriment, including payment of debt or filing for bankruptcy.” The court also concluded that “'[p]the psychological states induced by a debt collector’s letter – including emotional distress and confusion – are not concrete injuries.

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