In Pozzuolo v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60680 (4/9/19) the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the named plaintiff of a putative class action lawsuit finding that he lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The plaintiff was seeking to represent a class of persons who received validation notice letters from the defendant which allegedly violated the FDCPA by stating that disputes could be made telephonically while the FDCPA requires that they be in writing. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision, the Defendant moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that Defendant had not suffered concrete injury. The Court agreed, pointing to the fact that the plaintiff had testified that he had “merely skimmed the letter and had no intention to dispute the debt.” The Court also pointed out that the Defendant treats telephonic disputes in the same way is it treats written disputes. Ultimately the Court held that Plaintiff’s allegations, even if true, at best stated a mere procedural violation of the FDCPA.
Moral of the Story
Don’t give up on Spokeo. Although Spokeo has not been the panacea which many had hoped for, it can still be useful in supporting the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging a mere procedural FDCPA violation. Often times, however, it will be necessary to develop evidence of lack of “concrete” harm during the discovery process before Spokeo can be relied upon to dispose of the case.