The South Florida District has added to the growing collection of cases under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) on the basis of a lack of quality.
In Preisler v Eastpoint Recovery Grp., n ° 20-CV-62268-RAR (SD Florida 25 May 2021)The defendant, United Holding Group, LLC, bought a plaintiff’s claim, Amir Preisler, and hired the defendant Eastpoint Recovery Group, Inc. (Eastpoint) to help him recover. On November 7, 2019, Eastpoint sent the requester a letter identifying the account and indicating:
The above account has been assigned to this agency for collection. We are a professional collection agency trying to collect a debt. Any information we obtain will be used as the basis for impose collection of this debt. (Underlined by the court).
The plaintiff filed a claim under the FDCPA, alleging that the letter was misleading and that the inclusion of the word “apply” made the letter threatening and confusing to him.
In granting Eastpoint’s motion to dismiss, the court noted that “the confusion – in itself – is not prejudice in fact”. On the contrary, the “subjective interpretation of the word ‘apply’ by the applicant has not resulted in the concrete and particular prejudice necessary to confer standing in Article III”.
Further, the court ruled that even though the plaintiff suffered tangible harm, he lacked standing because the alleged harm – fear and emotional distress based on the use of the word “apply” in the statement. collection letter – was not attributable to the alleged violations. of the FDCPA. Rather, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s distress was due to his default on his debt and his concern about the consequences.
As courts increasingly focus on whether plaintiffs in FDCPA cases have suffered concrete injuries, this case is a reminder that the existence of actual harm is not the only requirement for action. Rather, a claimant must also demonstrate a causal link between the alleged harm and the claims made.